FORKS — Self-inflicted errors to the tune of seven turnovers and a heap of inopportune penalties crippled Forks in a 20-7 defeat against Raymond-South Bend at Spartan Stadium on Friday night.
“Raymond is a much improved football team, it was obvious they had spent a lot of time in the weight room — they were full of strong, tough hard-nosed kids.
“That said, we didn’t help ourselves. We had seven turnovers and I don’t know of any team who’s been able to overcome seven turnovers and win a game.”
The Spartans tossed three interceptions and fumbled four times, including two on special teams.
“Special teams had a huge impact on the game, obviously the turnovers, but [Raymond-South Bend’s] punt team did a good job of pinning us field-position-wise when we struggled to return the ball.
“It’s unfortunate, it’s unbecoming of who we are and what we do because we have been one of the best teams in the state in terms of turnover margin. We aren’t a team that’s penalized by the foolish mistakes, but we took points off the board.”
The Spartans opened the game by stopping the Ravens on defense, the first time all season Raymond-South Bend had been kept out of the end zone on its initial drive.
Taking over at its own 4-yard line, Forks moved into safer territory before Nate Dahlgren busted loose for a 65-yard run deep into the Raven’s side of the ball.
Dahlgren cracked the century barrier on the night on the ground with ease.
“The biggest positive out of the game was Nate Dahlgren,” Highfield said. “His effort running the football was tremendous. I’ve been doing this a long time and I don’t know how to describe it — it was heart-felt, it was fanatical, it was incredible.”
A holding penalty negated a 13-yard Spartans TD pass and Forks came away empty inside the Ravens’ 20-yard line.
Another drive marched to the RSB 4-yard line but was halted by penalties that moved the Spartans out of field goal range.
“We had the ball five times in[side the Raven’s 20] and we only got one score and that’s tough,” Highfield said.
Raymond quarterback Austin Snodgrass ran for two touchdowns, a 10-yard run in the first quarter, and broke free of a Forks tackle for a 30-yard scramble in the second quarter.
“He did a good job of making people miss,” Highfield said. “We only had a few breakdowns and he was part of them.”
Walker Wheeler scored the lone Spartans’ touchdown on a 16-yard counter run in the second quarter.
“Positives are that we were still in the game, a very tight game, so there is potential there to clean things up to move forward,” Highfield said.