The Carolina Forest Panthers took home their fifth win of the season Friday, overpowering the Beaufort Eagles 40-20.
“Beaufort was a great football team,” Carolina Forest coach Marc Morris said. “They’re going to go a long way in the 4A playoffs. We’re real fortunate to get a win tonight.”
After setting a program scoring record last week with a 70-28 win over St. James, Carolina Forest took the field Friday already knowing they had locked up a playoff berth two weeks prior with a win over Socastee.
The Panthers started strong and built a 27-7 lead. The offensive explosion included rushing touchdowns from Luke Janack and Kyle Watkins (who finished off a 98-yard drive) and a jump ball touchdown pass that Luke’s brother Adam Janack brought down in the corner of the end zone despite tight coverage.
Although Beaufort defeated Carolina Forest in the teams’ first two matchups, that trend came to an end after Luke Janack and Watkins rushed for another touchdown each in the second half to give Carolina Forest its 40-20 win over Beaufort.
“If we’re going to be successful, our offense has to play well,” Morris said. “We came in, we executed pretty good. Kyle had another good night for us tonight as quarterback and Luke had a good night at running back, the receivers made some big plays and it was a good night.”
The teams hadn’t played each other since 2013, and Friday’s game was a pre-playoff test to see if the 5A Panthers have what it takes to stand up to a strong defense before the postseason with the 4A Eagles giving up less than a touchdown per game this season on average. And the Eagle’s lowest-scoring game of the season was a 37-14 win over May River.
“That’s a great football team over there,” Morris said. “They came in scoring well over 40 points a game and not giving up a whole lot. Any time you play a playoff atmosphere like we had tonight versus a good playoff team, it was good for our kids, a good experience.”
Carolina Forest was able to find holes in the Beaufort defense with five rushing touchdowns and one passing score. Luke Janack and Kyle Watkins are both in the top five area leaders in rushing yards, and those skills were on display with a combined five rushing touchdowns between them.
But Beaufort returned the favor, in part, with rushing scores from Jaylin Houseal and Amariee Morris, and a Tyler Haley touchdown pass to Marcus Goodwater.
“We’ve got a lot to improve on,” Morris said. “We haven’t played the best football we can play for four quarters yet, and even though we’ve been successful this year, we’ve got to keep getting better and keep executing both offensively and defensively. And like I said, we’ve played some good football teams and tonight was no different.”
The Panthers take on Wilson next week, and the head to Goose Creek to start the playoffs.