LAKE WORTH — It all came down to one play.
Forest Hill and Lake Worth had traded blows all night in a game that featured four lead changes. The Trojans, trailing by five, faced a fourth-and-goal from the Falcons' 4-yard line with six seconds left.
After a timeout, Lake Worth called a sweep, but Forest Hill's swarming defense rose to the occasion and stopped it for no gain, allowing the Falcons to escape with a 26-21 non-district victory Friday night.
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"That showed a lot about who we are," Forest Hill coach Garret Necaise said. "Our guys stepped up."
The Falcons had taken the lead with less than a minute to play, but a 59-yard kickoff return by two-way standout Alex Johnson set up the Trojans with a first-and-goal at the 7. From there, however, four straight running plays netted only three yards.
Here are three takeaways from the game, which left both teams with 2-2 records.
In a physical battle that featured only nine passes, it was the Falcons who asserted themselves down the stretch.
After the Trojans took a 21-13 lead early in the fourth quarter on a 6-yard scoring run by Ralph Decius, the Falcons drove 80 yards in eight plays, with Malik Razz carrying four times and scoring on a 2-yard run. But the two-point conversion attempt failed and Forest Hill still trailed by two.
That's when the defense came up with its first big play of the quarter. After the kickoff, Sonny LaMattina pounced on a fumbled snap, setting up a 47-yard drive for the winning score. With Razz sidelined by a knee injury, Andrew Davis and Carlos Morales carried the load, with Morales scoring from 5 yards out.
Forest Hill had a 119-17 edge in total yards in the quarter and dominated time of possession.
"We got back to our game," Necaise said of the fourth quarter. "I have to give the (offensive) line a lot of credit."
Necaise, the Falcons' first-year head coach, said before kickoff that he expected the game to be a "grind." That was an understatement. The only thing missing was the leather helmets.
The Trojans passed twice, completing one for five yards. The Falcons attempted seven passes but completed only one, for nine yards.
The game was decided in the trenches and there were a number of casualties. Play was stopped several times when players were suffering from cramps or minor injuries.
"That's the style we prefer to play," Lake Worth coach Robert Nichols said. "We expected to see them pass a little more, but we were definitely going to run the ball."
With quarterback Robert Furney mostly misfiring, Forest Hill turned to its trio of running backs. Razz, Davis and Morales combined for 179 yards on 26 carries, each scoring a touchdown. Razz led the way with 90 yards on 12 carries.
"I feel like I did my part," said Razz, who also played some free safety. "Our O-line was pushing their D-line back."
Tough loss for Trojans
Nichols lamented "defensive miscues" that allowed the Falcons to rally in the fourth quarter.
"We had players in position to make plays late in the game," he said.
Despite the loss, Nichols has been encouraged by the Trojans' progress through the first four games. After already matching last year's win total, they came within one play of being 3-1.
"We're a long way from where we were last year," Nichols said. "I think the boys understand that. I don't see us going backwards."
Lake Worth opens Class 4M-District 11 play next week against unbeaten Santaluces.
"It's homecoming, it's a district game, it's a rivalry game," Nichols said. "We don't have time to dwell on this."
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: High School Football: Forest Hills Falcons beat Lake Worth Trojans