Turnovers propel Cards over Huskies
Last modified: Oct. 31, 2012
Ashe County tried, but couldn't wrangle East Wilkes' explosive running back tandem in its 23-8 loss Friday night in Ronda.
But it's not like the Huskies didn't have their chances.
The Cardinals forced five Ashe County turnovers, including two interceptions on go ahead scores deep in East Wilkes territory.
The win was the first for the Cardinals over the Huskies since joining the league in 2009.
Despite the loss, Ashe County 4-7 (3-5 in Mountain Valley Conference play) still qualified for the 2AA state playoffs for the tenth consecutive season, under first year coach Brian Hampton.
They will face Catawba Valley power Newton-Conover in first round action on the road.
East scored on its first possession of the game when Zack West booted home a 23-yard field goal. The early score was set up by a blazing 72-yard run by Alvin Sells.
On the second drive of the game, the Cardinals showed no signs of trepidation against the Huskies defensive front as Alvin Sells led East Wilkes to the Ashe County 1-yard line after picking up huge chunks of yardage on three straight runs.
Dillon Bray then found a seam in the Huskies' goal line formation to taste the end zone.
The extra point was no good and East led 9-0.
Like for the much of the season, Ashe County went to its go to back, Jonathan Cox, to bail out the Huskies offense. On its next drive of the game, Cox led Ashe County to the Cardinals 16-yard line before Connor Bowers' pass was picked off in the end zone.
To open the second quarter, the Cardinals again called upon Alvin Sells to lead the charge as he busted up the middle and gutted the Huskies defense until he reached midfield.
On the next play, East went to Alvin's counterpart Jaythan Sells to pick up the first down.
Facing a huge fourth down play, West hooked up with fellow Cardinal Wes Smith to the Ashe County 1-yard line for the 35-yard completion.
Bray then capped off the scoring drive on the next play and after the 2-point conversion East led 16-0 with 8:56 remaining in the half.
Ashe County again challenged the scattered Cardinals' defense, as the Huskies again drove systematically inside the East Wilkes' 20-yard line.
But like on its first drive of the game, Ashe County's drive was snuffed out once
again when an errant pass found the waiting hands of an East Wilkes' defender.
A revitalized Huskies' offense came out of the locker rooms with something to prove in the second half.
Bowers found tight end Cullen Ashley at the East Wilkes 40-yard line and a convincing run by Cox erased the damage done by a previous holding penalty two plays later.
Recently transformed fullback Carson Knight later punched the ball into the end zone, but still trailed 16-6. The Huskies found another stroke of the luck on the ensuing kickoff as Jaythan Sells fumbled the football, giving Ashe County great field position going in.
A 20-yard run by Cox set Ashe County up inside the Cardinals 5-yard line. From there, East Wilkes was able to stymie Ashe County's ground attack forcing a fourth and goal situation.
On the next play, Ashely looked like he would find the end zone, but was drug down at the last second by an East Wilkes player at the half yard line.
While the defensive stand saved further damage for the Cardinals, it came as a blessing in disguise for the Huskies as East Wilkes suddenly found itself with its backs against the walls on its 1-yard line.
East Wilkes was able to punt the ball away, but again found itself next to its own goal line as the Huskies began to play a game of field position against the Cardinals.
This time, the Huskies drug down West in the end zone and an intentional grounding call resulted in the automatic safety to bring the Huskies within one score.
Down the stretch, Ashe County appeared to find its sync offensively as the Huskies tried to inch their way back into the game.
The Cardinals, however, would finally have redemption, as three interceptions sealed the victory for East Wilkes and a birth into the state playoffs.