For the first time in school history, Ashe County was able to beat Watauga in Boone, while at the same time snapping a 13-year losing streak to the rival Pioneers.
A late field goal from Kendall Richardson gave Ashe a 16-13 victory, the first win over Watauga since Ashe held on for a 14-7 win in 2001.
“When it came down to it, he (Richardson) stepped up and put it through the uprights for the win,” said head coach Brian Hampton.
Richardson's 39-yard kick was right down the middle with 1:36 left in the game and Joseph Lowder sealed the win with an interception with 27 seconds left.
Ashe opened the game with a six-yard TD pass from Connor Bowers to Colin Ellis on fourth and goal with 6:36 left in the first quarter. The extra point was no good, but Ashe was in front 6-0.
The Huskies forced a turnover late in the first when Shawn Baker recovered a fumble forced by Brandon Blevins to end a Watauga drive.
In the second quarter, the Huskies missed a couple of opportunities to add on to its lead. Richardson missed a 37-yard kick at the 8:43 mark of the quarter and then the Huskies turned the ball over on downs inside the Watauga 30.
Even after being dominated for a whole half of football, the Pioneers made a play with six seconds left in the second quarter that changed the whole momentum. Dakota McCrary picked off a pass from Bowers and returned it all the way for a touchdown.
Luis Ramos broke the offensive line to block the extra point to send the game to the half tied at 6-6.
Watauga took its first lead of the night with 10:11 left in the fourth quarter when quarterback Rylee Critcher found Elijah Temple for a 29-yard touchdown strike in the back of the end zone. The extra point made the score 13-6.
On the next Husky possession, Ashe answered quickly, passing the ball down the field in a drive that was capped off with a seven-yard TD from Bowers to running back Skye Sullivan. The extra point tied the game.
On Ashe's final drive, a big pass play from Bowers to Carter Calhoun brought the ball down to the Pioneer 25-yard line with 2:40 remaining.
The Huskies gained a few more yards but were going to have to rely on Richardson's foot to get the lead.
With the play clock running down, Richardson blasted the go-ahead field goal.
Watauga quickly started to drive down the field. With the ball across midfield, Critcher dropped back for a pass that was picked off by Lowder and the celebration began for the visiting Huskies.
Ashe is now 2-0 on the season.
“It was a great team effort, I can't be happier. I have never been this proud of a football team,” said Hampton.
Beating Watauga is something Ashe has struggled to do for over a decade, and while the win is great for the team, there are other big goals to accomplish this season.
“I don't want us to think that our season is complete just because we beat Watauga. We've still got a lot of unfinished business but this is certainly a great game to build on,” Hampton said.
Bowers had another strong passing performance. The senior completed 32 passes on 46 attempts for 278 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Ellis had eight catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. Calhoun finished with six grabs for a team-high 99 yards. Jacob Blevins had six catches for 50 yards, Evan Owen had six catches for 27 yards, Jacob Worley added three catches for 18 yards and Sullivan finished with two grabs for 20 yards and a score.
The Huskies were limited to 76 yards on 20 carries rushing the ball. Ellis had 37 yards, Bowers finished with 26 yards and Sullivan added 13.
For the second game in a row, sophomore Tristen Jones led Ashe with 11 tackles. S. Baker added nine, B. Blevins added seven and a quarterback sack and Luis Ramos had six tackles, all in the first half after leaving the game with a knee injury at halftime.
Kenny Reed and Bradley Lucas had five tackles each. Josh Hamilton had four tackles, Jason Baker added three and Hunter Barnes added three. Lowder finished with one tackle and two big interceptions.
The Huskies will be back at home this week to face R.J. Reynolds.
Other area scores:
Alleghany 26, Grayson County 23
Trinity 16, Bishop McGuinness 6
Starmount 38, East Surry 15
Surry Central 30, East Wilkes 20
North Surry 31, Elkin 6
North Iredell 33, Forbush 17
Hibriten 58, Wilkes Central 20
Avery County 24, McDowell 21
Bassett (Virginia) 45, North Stokes 6
Reagan 38, West Stokes 12
South Caldwell 28, West Caldwell 7
South Stokes 36, North Wilkes 34
Mount Airy 22, Thomasville 8
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-846-7164 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87