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Ashe takes over first place in MWC

Originally published: Oct. 26
Last modified: Oct. 26

Jordan Davis

HAYS — Sometimes, good teams can turn small mistakes into touchdowns.

Ashe County faced that type of situation. In a one-possession game with three minutes remaining, Ashe County faced a third down and 12. Rather than running the ball to keep the clock ticking, the Huskies elected to pass.

Ashe quarterback Connor Bowers slightly over threw Mason McNeil, but McNeil made a miraculous over the shoulder, one-handed catch at midfield. He took it the distance for a 70-yard touchdown to secure a 34-20 win over North Wilkes and put the visiting Huskies (6-3, 5-0 MWC) in sole possession of first place in the Mountain Valley Conference.

McNeil was able to make the catch despite not necessarily being in the place he was supposed to be at the time.

“I actually ran the wrong route,” McNeil said. “Coach told me to run a quick slant and I ran a deep post, but I hooked up with my quarterback with good communication. It was just a play not many people make.”

After a scoreless first quarter, the two squads’ traded long touchdown plays to start the second. Johnathan Cox got it started with a 30-yard touchdown run on the first play of the quarter.

Two plays later the Vikings (7-2, 4-1) answered with a 58-yard touchdown run by Coty Wagoner. However it only took two plays for Ashe to respond with a 50-yard touchdown pass to Bradley Lucas.

The Vikings added another score just before halftime, but would not score again until late in the fourth quarter

The Huskies defense limited the Vikings big-play offense to three touchdowns, only the second time this year they have been held under 35 points.

The front seven recorded six sacks and forced North Wilkes quarterback, LJ Hendren, outside the pocket all night, which resulted in three interceptions.

“To kill a snake you cut its head off — so to stop the pass, you have get to the quarterback,” Ashe Coach Brian Hampton said. “With him running around and having to make throws unbalanced, I think that really affected their passing game.”

Much like the defensive line, the offensive line controlled this game from the start. The Huskies amassed 258 yards on the ground, led by 217 by Cox on 36 carries.

“Offensively, we were just bigger and stronger than them up front,” Hampton said. “That was our game plan — to mash the football, run the clock and keep their offense off the field. For the most part we did a good job of that.”

The Huskies will put their top-spot on the line again next week when one-loss Starmount visits Ashe County.

For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.