Forest Park had been shut out twice, but coach Obie Barnes told a spectator before yesterday's football game against top-ranked City:
"It's going to be a good one -- just you watch."
And it was. The unranked Foresters (2-3) gave the visiting Knights (5-0) all they could handle before losing, 16-15.
Forest Park's two losses this season were to last year's 1A state runner-up Cambridge, 12-0, and the area's No. 3-ranked team, Gilman, 21-0.
"Our schedule asks a lot of us, and last week [Gilman] was a nightmare," said Forest Park quarterback Newman Thompson, who was intercepted five times against Gilman. "But that's why we were ready for this game -- our intensity level was up in the atmosphere somewhere."
Forest Park led, 7-0, with 5:32 left in the first period after James Heath's 55-yard return of a fumble by Jemini Jones, then Thompson's extra-point kick.
Only the pride of City's tradition -- coupled with a second-quarter interception by Jimmy Lewis that the Knights' turned into a 16-7 lead -- allowed the visitors to boost their winning streak to 25 games.
"Our defense won the ballgame for us because Forest Park didn't allow our offense to explode," said City coach George Petrides, citing second-team All-City lineman Xavier Logan (6 feet, 260 pounds) and defensive backs Aaron Watkins (two fumble recoveries) and Hayes Gaines (a fumble recovery).
"This game woke us up," said City quarterback Terron Matthews. "I wouldn't change a thing about it."
Except maybe his fumble at City's 39 early in the fourth period. Matthews dropped back to pass when
several Foresters jarred the ball loose and David Medlin recovered.
Seven plays later, Robert Arthur (17 carries, 111 yards) scored his fourth touchdown of the year, from 4 yards out. Arthur, who has 440 yards rushing this season, ran in the conversion to make it 16-15 with 10:13 left.
"We played Gilman on their name only, but we showed City that records and rankings don't mean anything," said Arthur, who also had three receptions for 40 yards.
Despite a 57-yard punt by Dwight Banks, Forest Park drove 10 plays and 50 yards to the City 42 with four minutes left before losing the ball on downs. Matthews (seven carries, 40 yards) helped to run out the clock with six carries among the game's nine remaining plays.
"We changed to a 6-5 defense instead of the 52 and 44 we used the last two weeks," said Barnes, crediting linebackers Daman Harrison, Anton Cole, Delano Jackson and Lionell Yewitt.
Banks, an All-City receiver, had 219 yards and five touchdowns last week against Walbrook, and teammate Ricky Dangerfield entered the game with 494 rushing yards.
Both scored their ninth touchdowns in the second quarter to give the Knights the lead for good. Banks caught a 10-yard scoring pass from Matthews, and Dangerfield ran for an 8-yard touchdown. But Dangerfield (17 carries, 88 yards) was held below 100 yards for the first time, and Banks caught only one more pass, for 13 yards.
"They played good defense and seemed inspired. This was their momentum builder," said Dangerfield, who ranked fourth in area rushing and second (76 points) in scoring. "But it brought us together too, showing our guys that teams won't just lay down for City."