WARRENSVILLE — The Ashe County Middle School Bulldogs are one win away from championship glory and an undefeated season.
ACMS wrapped up its regular season with a 54-24 triumph over East Wilkes. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, a quick scoring run that included Austin Poe running the opening kickoff back 73 yards for a touchdown. The other two scores came from a 36-yard TD pass from Dawson Cox to Timothy Peterson and a 16-yard TD pass from Cox to Poe.
In the second quarter, Ryan Blevins ripped off a 25-yard touchdown run to give the Bulldogs a 28-6 lead that the team would have no problem building on in the second half.
Cox added a two-yard touchdown run, Blevins got into the scoring act again with an 80-yard kickoff return touchdown, Poe tossed a 16-yard scoring strike to Thomas Ballard and Camden Current capped off the second half scoring with a 15-yard touchdown scamper.
Defensively, the Bulldogs were strong as usual. The team forced four turnovers with Ballard, Kaden Burgess and Mason Carpenter all picking off passes and Blevins recovered a fumble.
Jaron Greer had four tackles for loss, Keenan Witherspoon led all players with four tackles and Peterson added three tackles as well. Burgess and Jacob Miller each had a pair of tackles for loss.
In the first playoff game, the Bulldogs once again had no trouble with their opponent. Ashe jumped out to a 26-0 lead at the end of the first quarter on the way to a 44-22 win.
The defense forced three fumbles recovered by Peterson, Jadon Treadway and Jackson Risk that all helped the Bulldogs out with field position.
Cox threw a pair of first-quarter touchdowns. The first one was a 49-yarder to Peterson and then a 45-yarder to Poe. Blevins added a seven-yard TD run and Peterson had a four-yard score, all coming in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Bulldog defense pitched a shutout while the offense was able to find the end zone one more time before the half. Cox threw his third touchdown of the day, a 70-yard score to Ballard to give the Bulldogs a 32-0 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs added two more second half scores. Cox ripped off a 50-yard run for his fourth touchdown and Burgess threw a pretty 59-yard TD strike to Witherspoon. Ashe held a 44-14 lead going to the fourth.
Overall, Cox finished with 179 yards on 6-of-8 passing with three touchdowns. As a team, the Bulldogs rushed for 157 yards on 20 carries.
Ashe forced one more turnover in the second half, another fumble scooped up by Jacob Miller.
Gabe Bare had a big day defensively, leading all players with 10 tackles. Witherspoon, Blevins, Greer, Treadway and Emery Brineger had three tackles each. Greer added a pair of tackles for loss and Blevins had one quarterback sack.
The Bulldogs will play for the championship on Saturday night against Elkin. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. The Bulldogs will look to finish off an unbeaten season as they sit at 7-0. Elkin enters the contest with a 6-1 record with their lone loss being to Ashe County.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062.