Ashe County’s defense forced seven turnovers and helped the Huskies stay unbeaten in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference with a 39-14 win over East Wilkes.
For the second straight week, the Huskies forced a fumble on the opening kickoff. Senior tailback Johnathan Cox scored on the first play from scrimmage, a 22-yard run. The extra point was no good, putting Ashe ahead 6-0.
On the next drive, East Wilkes fumbled for the second time, setting Ashe up with good field position at the Cardinals’ 23-yard line.
Cox got his second TD of the night on a nine-yard run. Ashe was up 12-0 with 10 minutes left in the first quarter.
Once again, the Ashe defense forced a third fumble, but this time, the defense did the scoring themselves. Michael Elliott scooped the fumble up and returned it to the endzone for a touchdown. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful.
Already ahead 18-0, the Ashe defense continued to play strong and forced a fourth straight fumble. Cox again capped off the drive with a 20-yard TD. Connor Bowers completed the two-point pass to Jacob Worley to put Ashe ahead, 26-0. All of this happened in the first six minutes of the game.
With 2:38 left in the first quarter, the Huskies caused a fifth turnover. Senior Matthew Hamilton pulled down an interception to stop the Cardinals’ best drive of the game.
The Huskies opened the second quarter with passing touchdown. Bowers tossed a short screen pass to Cox on a fourth-and-25, and Cox did the rest of the work, eluding defensive players and getting all the way to the endzone.
East Wilkes got its first points with 4:13 left in the half, a 12-yard TD run from Omar Everett.
Jacob Blevins forced the sixth Cardinal turnover of the game with 43 seconds left in the half, grabbing an interception inside the Ashe 20-yard line. The Huskies held a 32-8 lead at the half.
Ashe looked to keep the foot on the pedal in the third quarter. Cox ripped off a 41-yard run on the first play to take the ball to the Cardinal redzone. However, a few penalties and dropped passes later, the Huskies turned the ball over on downs.
Late in the third, Hamilton got his second INT of the game, ending another Cardinal drive and giving Ashe it’s seventh forced turnover.
Bowers threw his second touchdown pass to open the fourth quarter. Bowers found tight end Bradley Lucas for a 23-yard score. Jamie Weaver’s extra point was good and the Huskies were up 39-8
East got a late touchdown run from Zach West before the Huskies ran out the clock.
Ashe is now 5-3 overall and 4-0 in MVAC play.
“We took advantage of their mistakes and did some good things in the first half,” said Head Coach Brian Hampton.
Hampton noted that the team did seem to lose a bit of their focus late in the half and in the second half.
“We’ve got some big tests coming up in the next couple of weeks and we have to play focused football all four quarters.”
The first big game coming up will be at North Wilkes on Friday. Both teams are undefeated in the conference, and the winner will undoubtedly have a leg up in the MVAC race. Ashe fans are encouraged to make the trip down the mountain to support the Huskies.
Bowers finished the game completing 5-13 passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns.
Cox had another big game with 148 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries as well as two catches for 51 yards and another TD. Fullback Brandon Wingler had 18 yards on five carries and Hunter Barnes had 14 yards on four carries.
Lucas finished with two grabs for 31 yards and a TD and Wingler had one catch for five yards.
Defensively, Elliott had an outstanding game with 12 tackles, one force fumble and one fumble recovery he returned for a TD.
Dustin Guy had 12 tackles, Jason Baker had five tackles, Alex Laws had five tackles and Hamilton finished with five tackles and two interceptions.
Cullen Ashley had four tackles for losses to lead the team. Maison McNeill added four takedowns and Shawn Baker had four tackles, three of those for losses, one forced fumble and one fumble recovers. Evan Walker recorded a fumble recovery too.
Alleghany 21, Wilkes Central 14
North Wilkes 13, Starmount 10
Elkin 36, West Wilkes 21
Hibriten 45, Watauga 44
Mount Airy 64, Atkins 0
East Surry 14, Bishop McGuinness 7
West Stokes 27, Forbush 21
Carver 21, North Surry 7
West Lincoln 49, West Caldwell 19
Polk County 35, Avery County 7
Walkertown 35, North Stokes 13
Surry Central 24, South Stokes 6