East Wilkes rushed for 401 yards and forced six Husky turnovers to pick up a 23-8 win in the regular season finale for both teams.
The Cardinals had to have this win to have any hopes of making the playoffs while the Huskies were hoping to use this game to improve its own playoff seeding.
East scored on its opening drive with a 23-yard field goal from Zack West with 8:01 remaining in the first quarter. The Cardinals jumped on the board again late in the first, this time on a one-yard touchdown run from Dillon Bray, set up by a long run by Jathan Sales. The two-point conversion was no good, making the score 9-0.
In the second quarter, Bray scored his second TD of the day, this one from three yards out. A long run by Alvin Sales set up this scoring opportunity. West booted the extra point, extending the Cardinal advantage to 16-0.
Ashe started to come to life early in the second half. Jonathan Cox ripped off a pair of long runs that put Ashe inside the East Wilkes 10-yard line. Carson Knight powered across the goal line from five yards out. The two-point conversion attempt was no good as Cox was stopped just short of the end zone on a running play. Ashe trailed 16-6 with 9:07 left to play in the third.
The Husky defense shined throughout the third quarter. Ashe held the Cardinals scoreless, and was able to record a safety to put Ashe down just eight points. Cullen Ashley grabbed the quarterback in the end zone as he attempted a pass that was nowhere near any Cardinal receiver. The play resulted in an intentional grounding penalty, thus two points for Ashe as the pass occurred in the end zone.
The fourth quarter was all defense on both sides, with the final nail in the coffin coming on an interception that was returned for a touchdown by the Cardinals late in the quarter to make the score 23-8.
Cox had yet another terrific game. The junior carried the ball 26 times for 223 yards.
Connor Bowers completed nine of 22 passes for 100 yards. Senior Eli Gambill was the leading receiver with three catches for 37 yards. Ashley added three catches for 36 yards, Cox had two catches for eight yards, Grayson Gilley had a single reception for 14 yards and Jacob Blevins had one catch for five yards.
For East Wilkes, Alvin Sales finished with 205 rushing yards on 22 carries to lead the Cardinal rushing attack. Jathan Sales had nine carries for 118 yards, and Bray finished with 30 rushing yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns.
Defensively, Michael Elliott had a huge game for the Huskies, finishing with 12 tackles to lead all players. Jason Baker moved up from the junior varsity squad and had seven tackles. Knight, Dominic Maxwell and Parker Dunne each added seven tackles as well. Hunter Barnes finished with six tackles, Hawkens Flanagan had five, Ashley finished with three and Brandon Carpenter had three tackles. Baker and Flanagan each had a fumble recovery to add to their defensive stat line.
Ashe County completed the regular season with an overall record at 4-7, and a conference record of 3-5. Ashe finished in a three-way tie for fifth place in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference.
East Wilkes finished at 2-8 overall and 2-6 in the MVAC. The win also put them in the playoffs, although that stay will probably be short lived as they will travel to defending state champion Swain County on Friday Night.
Up next, the Huskies will travel to Newton-Conover in the first round of the 2AA West playoffs.
Other area scores:
Bishop McGuinness 34, North Stokes 21
Mount Airy 51, East Surry 7
Elkin 42, Forbush 21
Hibriten 58, Alexander Central 51
McDowell 48, North Wilkes 20
Avery County 13, Mitchell County 6
Newton-Conover 28, West Caldwell 6
West Stokes 21, North Surry 12
Watauga 43, St. Stephens 21
Wilkes Central 14, Starmount 7
South Stokes 52, Surry Central 14
Alleghany 13, West Wilkes 7