It was a sweet taste of victory for the Huskies on Friday night, especially for the seniors getting a win over Wilkes Central and snapping a three-year losing streak to the rival Eagles.
Ashe scored 40 unanswered points to start the game, all in the first half to beat Wilkes Central, 40-16.
The Huskies scored on its opening drive, capped off by a three-yard TD run by senior tailback Johnathan Cox.
Ashe’s next scoring drive was set up by a nice defensive play from Matthew Hamilton. The senior intercepted a pass from Eagle QB Jonathan Cook and returned it all the way to Central’s five-yard line.
Cox carried the ball for a two-yard score to put Ashe up 14-0 with 9:38 left in the first quarter.
The Husky defense came up big once again on the first play of the Eagle drive. Dustin Guy recovered a fumble in Eagle territory.
The Ashe passing game came to life on this short scoring drive. Junior quarterback Connor Bowers threw a short pass to Grayson Gilley and Gilley did the rest, scooting into the end zone from 17 yards out. The extra point was no good, but Ashe was in front 20-0 just four minutes into the contest.
Following a Wilkes Central punt, Ashe put the ground game to work. Running plays by Cox and Bowers, and a pass play to Jacob Blevins put Ashe inside the red zone.
Fullback Brandon Wingler pushed through the line for a three-yard touchdown run. Ashe was now ahead 26-0 with 1:16 left in the first quarter.
Ashe’s defense forced another punt to start the second quarter, and the offense took the ball and looked to march down the field. Bowers capped off this drive with a short TD run. The extra point was good. Ashe now led, 33-0.
With 4:40 left in the second quarter, Bowers found Maison McNeill for a 54-yard strike that got the team down to the 13-yard line.
Three plays later, Bowers dropped back and found Bradley Lucas for a seven-yard touchdown pass and a 40-0 Husky advantage.
The Eagles got on the scoreboard just before halftime with a 41-yard scamper by Andrew Bynum. Central converted the two-point play with 1:26 left.
The second half was very uneventful with Ashe running the ball quite a bit and getting playing time for everybody on the team.
Wilkes Central got its last score of the game with 5:17 left on a QB sneak from Cook.
Hunter Barnes capped off another strong defensive performance with a late-game interception to let the Huskies run out the clock.
Ashe moved to 3-3 overall and 2-0 in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference.
“We came out focused and that’s all we talked about all week was starting the game and doing it right,” said Head Coach Brian Hampton.
Last week, Ashe came out sluggish and got in a big hole against Alleghany before having to storm back for the win. This week, things were much different.
“I think for the most part we played a complete game and we didn’t let up,” Hampton said. “Every time you beat Wilkes Central it’s a great win.”
The struggles continued for the Eagles as they are now 1-5 overall and 1-1 in the MVAC.
On the stat sheet, Ashe out-gained Wilkes Central, 327 yards to 231 and forced four Eagle turnovers.
Ashe also had a great night on third down and in the red zone. The Huskies converted seven of 11 third-down attempts and scored six touchdowns on seven trips inside the 20-yard line.
Bowers was 8-10 passing for 128 yards and two touchdowns.
Cox led the ground attack with 95 yards on 17 carries with two scores. Hunter Barnes had 14 carries for 39 yards, Bowers had 32 rushing yards and a touchdown and Wingler added two carries for 11 yards and a score. Shawn Baker got some carries late in the contest and had 23 yards rushing. Zach Outen also had three rushing attempts.
McNeill led Ashe with two catches for 48 yards. Blevins had two catches for 42 yards and Lucas finished with two grabs for 22 yards and a score.
Defensively, Blevins led Ashe with seven tackles, Hamilton had six tackles and an INT, and Guy had five tackles and two fumble recoveries.
Baker and Michael Elliott had five tackles each. Mitchell Brown had two tackles and a quarterback sack. Alex Laws had two tackles and one tackle for loss.
Ashe will host West Wilkes this week for Homecoming.