WEST JEFFERSON — Ashe County battled back from a 28-7 deficit, took a lead, but could not close the door on the North Wilkes Vikings.
The Vikings had a nearly flawless offensive performance in the first half of the game. Ethan Brown got the scoring started with a three-yard touchdown run with 6:56 on the clock in the first quarter.
After an interception by Kameron Walsh, the Vikings turned the INT into points with a 15-yard TD run from Jarrett Grimes to take a 14-0 lead.
With 1:53 remaining in the first quarter, Christian Church outran the Husky defense down the sideline for a 69-yard score and a 21-0 lead.
Ashe got its first score of the night with 5:53 left in the second quarter when John Reavis capped off a drive with an 11-yard run.
It took North Wilkes just under three minutes to answer back. Grimes ripped off a 40-yard touchdown run to put the Vikings in front, 28-7.
Ashe was able to put together a nice drive to close the half. On what appeared to be the final play of the half, a pass interference penalty was called, giving Ashe one untimed down from just inside the five-yard line. Husky quarterback Luke Hudler made the most of it by leaping into the end zone for a touchdown. The extra point brought Ashe to within two scores at 28-14 after the first two periods.
The Huskies got marched down the field on its first drive of the third quarter and scored on an Alex Lacroix one-yard touchdown plunge. The extra point was no good, but the Huskies were right back into contention down 28-20 just a minute and a half into the third.
Hank McKenzie got the ball back for Ashe on the Vikings’ next possession. He picked off an errant throw, setting the Huskies up with the ball near midfield. With 4:03 left in the third, Lacroix ran the ball into the end zone from 13 yards out. The two-point conversion was no good, leaving North Wilkes clinging to a 28-26 lead.
The Husky defense kept putting the clamps down on the Viking rushing attack. With 9:49 left in the game, Ashe took its first lead of the night on a 30-yard strike from Hudler to Grant Thompson. Ashe now led the contest, 32-28.
On the next Viking drive, the Ashe defense stoned the Viking rushing attack on a fourth-and-two play in Husky territory to force a turnover on downs.
Following an Ashe County punt, the Vikings took over at their own 20-yard line with under four minutes left to play.
After a few rushing plays got the ball near midfield, the Vikings decided to go to the air on a wide receiver screen pass. Brown found Walsh out in the flat and he was able to make a couple of Husky defenders miss on the way to a 52-yard touchdown and a 35-32 lead with 1:19 left in the game.
The Huskies tried to get a drive going, but a wide receiver pass play from Thompson was intercepted with 16 seconds left near midfield.
Ashe dropped to 2-5 overall and 2-1 in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference. North Wilkes improved to 5-2 overall and 1-2 in the MVAC.
Hudler finished the game completing 15-27 passes for 209 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
On the ground, Reavis was the workhorse back for most of the second half, tallying 152 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. Lacroix added 27 yards on nine carries with two touchdowns.
Junior wideout Branson Shepherd led Ashe with seven catches for 107 yards. Corbin Coldiron finished with four receptions for 57 yards, Thompson had two catches for 30 yards and a touchdown, Reavis added one catch for eight yards and Kai Christoferson had one reception for seven yards.
The Huskies travel to Wilkes Central next week while North Wilkes returns home to face Elkin.
Wilkes Central 69, Elkin 26
East Wilkes 52, Starmount 7
West Wilkes 34, Alleghany 27
Watauga 49, Hickory 42
Madison 52, Avery County 34
West Caldwell 33, St. Stephens 21
Hibriten 50, Fred T. Foard 6
Mount Airy 59, North Stokes 0
East Surry 58, Bishop McGuinness 0
South Stokes 32, Winston-Salem Prep 28
North Surry 28, Surry Central 7
Atkins 48, Forbush 30
Grayson County (VA) 45, Auburn (VA) 18
Johnson County (TN) 14, Happy Valley (TN) 7
1. East Wilkes: 7-0, 3-0
2. Wilkes Central: 5-2, 3-0
3. Starmount: 3-4, 2-1
4. Ashe County: 2-5, 2-1
5. North Wilkes: 5-2, 1-2
6. West Wilkes: 5-2, 1-2
7. Alleghany: 4-3, 0-3
8. Elkin: 2-5, 0-3
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062.