WEST JEFFERSON — Watauga piled on 49 points to avenge last season’s home loss to the Huskies with a 49-27 win on Friday night at Ashe County High School.
The Pioneers looked like they were going to run away early in the first quarter with three touchdowns on the team’s first three drives.
Garrett Suggs opened the scoring with a 67-yard gallop on a handoff up the middle just 1:30 into the game.
After an Ashe three and out, the Pioneers put together a scoring drive that took nearly six minutes off the clock. Quarterback Aaron Dobbins capped off the drive with a one-yard plunge into the endzone to give the Pioneers a 14-0 lead.
Watauga had one more scoring drive in them in the quarter. Dobbins once again found the endzone from a yard out to take a 21-0 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Husky junior wide receiver Judd Price returned the kick 75 yards for a touchdown with 1:04 left in the first quarter to make the score 21-7.
Watauga scored first in the second quarter after converting a big third down pass play that set up a seven-yard TD run from Hamilton Castle and pushed the Pioneer advantage to 28-7.
Turnovers in the quarter kept Ashe from being behind even more. Junior safety Matthew Greer recovered a fumble at the 6:53 mark of the second quarter and Hunter Argetsinger recovered a muffed punt after another Husky three-and-out series just under two minutes later.
Ashe was able to cash in on the second turnover with a 24-yard strike from junior quarterback Colin Ellis to senior all-state wideout Maison McNeill with 5:06 left in the first half. The extra point was missed, making the score 28-13.
Watauga responded quickly in two minutes. Dobbins tossed a 10-yard TD pass to Rylee Critcher to put Watauga back in front by three scores at 35-13.
The Huskies closed the half strong with a huge fourth down pass play form Ellis to McNeill for a 35-yard TD with 57 seconds left in the half. The Huskies trailed 35-19.
Ashe got the ball first in the third quarter and drove the ball inside the Watauga 30. But thanks to a couple of key quarterback sacks by the Pioneer defense, the Huskies ended up turning the ball over on downs.
Watauga’s ground game struck quickly once again. Suggs blasted through the hole for a 46-yard TD that put the Huskies in an even deeper hole at 42-19.
The Huskies kept fighting back. Ellis found McNeill for the third time, this one an eight-yard TD with 44 seconds left in the third. Ashe went for two and got the conversion on a pass from Ellis to Sam Hudler to bring the Huskies within 15 points at 42-27.
The Pioneers put the game to rest with 8:49 left in the fourth with a TD pass from Dobbins to Suggs from eight yards out for the final score of the night.
Watauga improved to 2-0 on the season while Ashe dropped to 0-2.
Suggs and the rest of the Pioneer rushing attack was simply too much for the Huskies to deal with. Suggs carried the ball 18 times for 226 yards and as a team, the Pioneers rushed for 348 yards.
Watauga ended up with a whopping 552 total yards.
For Ashe, Ellis completed 19 of 39 passes for 213 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Skye Sullivan carried the ball three times for eight yards and added two catches for six yards.
In receiving, it was another great night for McNeill. The senior had six catches for 94 yards and three touchdowns. Judd Price added six catches for 61 yards with his kick return touchdown giving him 136 total yards. Sam Hudler finished with two grabs for 26 yards, Grant Thompson had two catches for 22 yards and Joseph Lowder had one catch for four yards.
The defensive standout of the night was Matthew Greer. He had 11 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recover.
While the scoreboard did not go Ashe’s way, head coach Brian Hampton had some positives to take away from the game.
“The thing that I’m proud of though is, we got behind 21-0 and we could have just folded, but we kept fighting and we kept trying to claw back,” said Hampton. “We had a drive going to get back within one score and one or two plays stalled the drive.”
“Offensively I think we got better, defensively we got better at some things even though it didn’t look like it at times,” added Hampton.
The Huskies will be off this Friday before getting back on the field Sept. 11 at home against Hibriten.
Other area scores:
McDowell 42, Avery 12
East Wilkes 46, Surry Central 13
Grayson County (Va.) 41, Alleghany 14
Maiden 36, Hibriten 27
North Iredell 42, Forbush 20
North Surry 55, Elkin 19
North Wilkes 33, South Stokes 21
North Stokes 34, South Davidson 0
East Surry 41, Starmount 21
South Caldwell 14, West Caldwell 0
Wilkes Central 35, West Iredell 20
West Stokes 27, Mount Airy 20
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-846-7164 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87