Rangers score early and often in whitewashSeptember 21, 2019
By LYNN ADAMS
FERDINAND — If you told someone who missed the Forest Park football game Friday night that there was a shutout and a running clock in the second half, they might not be surprised. Those things have happened before.
Unfortunately, those things too often occurred at the Rangers’ expense.
But that was then, and this is now.
Forest Park, sporting a winning record for the first time since probably the Rangers’ eight-win season in 2010, scored early and scored often in powering past Pocket Athletic Conference foe Pike Central en route to a 42-0 win. And it really wasn’t that close.
The Rangers piled up 246 yards, all on the ground, while limiting the Chargers to 94 total yards, and Forest Park forced three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
“We were pretty efficient on offense, running the ball,” coach Ross Fuhs said after his squad posted its third win in five tries and its second shutout. “Coming in, we thought we might need to work on our passing game a little bit and throw it, but we never really got into a situation to do that. Just the way the game flow was going, we just stuck with our ground game, and I think we did a real nice job of that.
“Defensively, our goal was to shut down [Connor O’Neal], I think he was actually leading the state in completions, and we did a great job on him. We wanted to make sure we met him at the line and had a guy over the top of him. They throw it to him a lot, and we felt like we could get some interceptions doing that, and I think we had three, and a couple by Jared Schipp again,” the coach observed. O’Neal finished with 12 yards on three catches.
For the game, Forest Park had 43 on its roster, and Pike Central dressed 18 players. The way the Rangers overwhelmed their opponent, the Chargers must have felt as if all 43 players were on the field at times.
“[Pike Central] dressed 18 guys tonight, and I’m proud of those kids for coming out and playing their rears off. They do a nice job, they’ve got some athletes. But they get worn down, but they play hard the whole game,” Fuhs said.
Forest Park got things started early. On the Rangers’ first possession, it took them just four plays to hit paydirt, with Jake Begle covering the final 42 yards down the right sideline. After Abby Eckert tacked on the first of six extra-point kicks, Forest Park had all the points it would need for the win with 10:08 showing.
The Rangers struck again on their next possession with runs by Drew Day, Cole Mohr and Begle, capped by Day’s nine-yard tote with 5:36 left in the opening quarter.
Pike Central showed signs of life on its next possession, converting a 28-yard pass play for a first down near midfield. But on the ensuing pass, Jared Schipp snared the ball and weaved his way from one sideline to the other for 56 yards and a score at the 4:11 mark.
The Chargers refused to believe lightning could strike twice, however. On the first play of Pike Central’s next possession, Schipp again stepped in front of a pass for a 16-yard return.
The Rangers made it 28-0 with 7:18 left before halftime when Day bulled into the end zone from five yards out.
After Pike Central relinquished the ball on downs four plays later, Mohr’s 13-yard touchdown run capped Forest Park’s four-play drive for a 35-0 cushion at halftime.
“Our line just set the tone on both sides of the ball,” Fuhs said. “Our line on offense was moving guys, and defensively, we did a nice job of stopping the run, for the most part. And in the pass game, we were aggressive, we were knocking balls down, getting interceptions, and I felt like we’re getting progressively better each game with our pass defense.”
The Rangers picked up where they left off in the second half, which was played with a running clock because of the 35-point rule, as Garret Berg picked off a Pike Central pass at the 39-yard line and streaked in untouched for the game’s final points with 9:05 left in the third period.
Forest Park, 1-2 in conference play, travels to PAC rival North Posey Friday. The Vikings were a 49-0 victim at the hands of mighty Heritage Hills this week, the third Top 10 team North Posey has faced in its first five games.
“They’ve got a front-heavy schedule. They’ve played Gibson (Southern), Southridge and Heritage Hills already, so they’ve been battle tested,” Fuhs said of this week’s challenge.
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