With the way Forreston ran at will against Freeport Aquin, the only hope for the visiting Bulldogs was to be able to pass.
Jonah Diemer did throw for 273 yards on 22-for-44 passing and three TDs, but Forreston easily won the NUIC crossover 50-19.
“Forreston has a lot of speed, physicality and always is going 100 percent,” Diemer said. “With them, anything is possible.”
Six plays into the game, Forreston already had a 10-0 lead on a safety and 37-yard Gavin Fuchs touchdown.
Though undefeated and favored to win to win the Upstate division, Aquin never recovered and were literally overrun by a team that averaged nearly 10 yards a carry before sending out its fresh-soph unit.
“That safety was a big deal,” Forreston coach Denny Diduch said.
Aquin was also hurt by five turnovers, including a 23-yard fumble return by Hunter Rogers, forced by Skyler Regez. That made it 18-0 and the Cardinals increased its lead to 34-6 on another Fuchs score and 66-yard dash by Joe Bowers.
AJ Christensen had his second of three interceptions to set up Bowers’ touchdown after Aquin had a first-and-goal.
“Our effort was great on defense,” linebacker Garrett Badertscher said. “We flew to the ball and were playing as aggressive as possible.”
In the third quarter, Regez had his second sack of the game, dropping Diemer for a 9-yard loss and forcing a punt.
Two plays later, junior Evan Kelsey went 56 yards for his second touchdown to make it 50-12 and Aquin probably couldn’t wait to get back to their own division.
“Honestly, it was mental mistakes that cost us the most,” Aquin coach Troy Barr said. “It’s hard to come back after shooting yourself in the foot.”
To its credit, Aquin did stop two Cardinal drives in the first quarter. But, Hunter Daws nailed the visitors on their own 6-yard line following a 55-yard punt.
Towards the end of the game, back up Bailey Cullor bombed a towering punt over 40 yards, lending credence to the depth Forreston has at over the field and prompting some players to chide Daws about having competition as No. 1 punter.
“We have some decent fresh-soph athletes,” Diduch said. “Preparing for Aquin, they give us decent looks in practice. The luxury of a true fresh-soph and varsity is rotation when it’s hot like this week.”
Logan White had two first-half touchdown receptions for Aquin and Zac Cummins caught a junk touchdown with 12 seconds left in the game.
“I still saw improvement in our cornerbacks,” Forreston’s Michael Singley said.
Forreston put up 394 yards of offense, but are still looking to connect in the passing game.
“It was grind it out possession for us,” Diduch said.
The win over Aquin ended a gauntlet of four straight games against undefeated opponents for Forreston. The team’s biggest challenge may be staying sharp the rest of the season for the playoffs.
“Our practices are competitive enough,” lineman Noah Spittler said.
Forreston hosts East Dubuque (1-4) Friday. West Carroll is the only team with a winning record on the rest of the schedule.
“We’ll make practice like the playoffs,” added Singley.
Forreston, EPC and West Carroll are all (4-1, 3-1) tied for second in the conference behind unbeaten Lena-Winslow, who appears headed for the outright title.