CANTON -- Cherokee’s offense came alive in the second half Friday night, pushing the Warriors to a 29-14 season-opening win over North Forsyth.
After being held to one offensive score in the first half, the Warriors (1-0) responded with touchdowns on three of their first four possessions in the second half.
“We we’re having self-inflicted mistakes,” Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said. “Some said, if we took care of that, we’d be able to put points on the board, which we did the second half.”
After being shut out in the first half, North Forsyth (0-1) found life on offense with a 10-play, 65-yard drive that ended when Patrick Corrigan plowed into the end zone on a 3-yard dive. Corrigan bullied his way in for the following 2-point conversion and, for a brief moment in the third quarter, North Forsyth had drawn within one score.
Cherokee’s offense responded with authority on the next play when sophomore quarterback A.J. Swann found Landon Ergle on the sideline, and the senior sprinted 74 yards to push the Warriors to a 23-8 advantage.
When the Raiders pulled within 23-14 in the fourth quarter, Cherokee’s offense struck gold again as Adarrius Harshaw took an end-around 74 yards to extend the lead to the final margin.
“We’ve got some explosive playmakers, and if we can get them the ball in space, usually good things are going to happen, and the offensive coaches did a good job getting the ball to those guys in space,” Shaw said.
After limited first-quarter success, the Warriors' offense attack found its rhythm behind the trio of Swann and receivers Devin Ellison and Harshaw.
As the first half wound to a close, the Warriors put together the game’s first scoring drive when Ellison turned a short pass into a 26-yard scoring reception, pushing the advantage to 9-0.
The Warriors’ defense and special teams led the way in the first quarter.
Midway through the opening quarter, Alonzo Upshaw pinned North Forsyth inside its own 2-yard line. The next play, Cherokee nose guard T.J. Parks barreled his way through the offensive line and swallowed August Watkins for a safety, giving the Warriors a 2-0 advantage.
Cherokee’s defense smothered North Forsyth throughout the first half, holding the Raiders to 60 yards and forcing three turnovers. They also stymied the Raiders' final two offensive drives to preserve the victory.
“We talk about together, toughness and turnovers. That’s been our mantra -- focus on the three Ts," Shaw said. "That’s what we did tonight."
Cherokee travel to county rival Sequoyah next week.