While lots of football fans off the mountain may have predicted a North Wilkes win, Ashe County proved to be one of the top teams in this conference, and a tough squad for any team to play, with a 34-20 win over the Vikings.
Ashe got behind by a 13-6 score, but came back to take a 14-13 lead at the half.
In the second half, it was all Huskies as they outscored North Wilkes 20-7 to take the top spot in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference.
“A lot of people doubted us,” said Head Coach Brian Hampton. “This group right here believes we are as good as anybody we play because we fight to the finish.”
“They (Huskies) fight, they never give up. Things happen, they get down, but they keep going. I can’t be more proud of a group of young men,” Hampton said.
Connor Bowers completed 4-8 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns. One of those scores included a terrific catch by Maison McNeill on a post route to seal the win late in the fourth quarter. McNeill snagged the ball one-handed and took it to the endzone for a 70-yard score.
Tight end Bradley Lucas also had a big catch early in the second quarter with a 49-yard TD. Jacob Blevins added one catch for 16 yards and Grayson Gilley had one catch for eight yards.
On the ground, Johnathan Cox was the workhorse tailback all night long. The senior carried the ball 36 times for 217 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Wingler added 19 rushing yards and Hunter Barnes ran for 15 yards.
For North Wilkes, L.J. Hendren was 20-34 passing for 267 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Defensively, Lucas had a team-high eight tackles. Dustin Guy and Alex Laws both had seven tackles and two quarterback sacks. Blevins collected seven tackles, as did Shawn Baker.
Cullen Ashley led the team in sacks with three. Michael Elliott had five tackles and one interception. Matthew Hamilton also had five tackles and a pick.
The Huskies are now 6-3 overall and 5-0 in the MVAC. North Wilkes dropped to 7-2 overall and 4-1 in conference.
With two games left in the regular season, everything is still on the line for three teams in the conference. Ashe, North Wilkes and Starmount could all potentially share an MVAC title.
If Ashe loses out and both Starmount and North Wilkes win both of their remaining games, then the Rams and Vikings will share the title and the Huskies will be on the outside looking in.
A win next week for the Huskies clinches at least a share of the MVAC title. But the ultimate goal for Coach Hampton and the rest of the Huskies is that outright championship.
“We are exactly where we want to be. We’ve beaten our first five opponents in conference play. We’re excited to be where we’re at,” said Hampton.
Madison County 28, Avery County 7
Starmount 55, East Wilkes 7
Elkin 45, Wilkes Central 42
Winston-Salem Carver 57, Forbush 10
Freedom 42, Hibriten 35
Mount Airy 46, Walkertown 40
West Stokes 34, South Stokes 15
Surry Central 28, North Surry 27
Watauga 24, Morganton-Patton 20
East Lincoln 68, West Caldwell 7
Alleghany 36, West Wilkes 14