The Huskies played what could be described as a good, but ugly game. At a glance, the Huskies outperformed the Rams in a majority of the stat columns, and even had possession of the ball longer, and a significant fewer amount of turnovers. The Huskies’ defense forced the Rams into eight fumbles, and one interception that ended drives for the Rams. Ashe only had three turnover on downs, with no turnovers, but yet was forced to punt on eight different drives during the game, compared to Starmount’s two punts.
Starmount opened the game up with the first strike. On their fourth possession, the first three ending in fumbles, Starmount’s offense took over on their own twenty-yard line at the start of the second quarter. On the first play of the drive, the Rams handed the ball off to Rashaun Gaither. Gaither rounded the left side of his offensive line, and voided Husky tacklers and put the first points on the board with an 80-yard touchdown run. Junior Valdez’s extra-point gave Starmount a 7-0 early lead.
Ashe was able to score two possessions later, and tied the game up at 7-7. The scoring drive was sparked by a drive that was filled with plays from the Holman brothers, and a run by Aaron Scott. The drive started out with a seven-yard pass play to Tatum Lemly, and then a 19-yard carry by Jeren Holman gave the Huskies a first down, and moved the ball into the Rams’ territory. Jeren continued to carry the ball toward Starmount’s goal line, and moved it down to their 26-yard line. On the next play, Daniel Waln connected with Tavin Holman for a 17-yard pass play, moving the Huskies’ offense to the nine-yard line. Another carry by Jeren, and then a four-yard gain on a rush by Scott moved the Huskies’ to the one-yard line. Ashe took two attempts to get into the endzone, and on the second attempt, Jeren Holman carried the ball from the one-yard line, and jumped over the offensive line for the touchdown on fourth down. Richie Absher’s extra-point was good, tying the score at 7-7, which it stayed through halftime.
In the second half, the Huskies looked to improve on their first half performance. Despite the score being tied, Starmount was in control of the game, as they had 147-yards offense in the first half, compared to Ashe’s 103 yards.
Ashe came out of the halftime intermission fired up, as Greyson Wells picked off the only pass of the night for both teams, and ended the Rams’ first drive of the half after only two plays. Ashe’s offense had their best starting position thus far in the game, but a four-play, four-yard drive ended with a punt for the Huskies. Starmount’s offense took the field, and pieced together a seven-play, 62-yard scoring drive, that was capped off with a touchdown by Israel Murphy to give Starmount a 14-7 lead (Junior Valdez’s extra-point was good).
Ashe, trailing by a touchdown, began to start running out of time as their next three possessions were concluded by punting possession away to the Rams. Ashe was able to strike on their fifth possession of the second half, when they started a drive on the Rams’ 35-yard line after Morgan Burks caused, and recovered a fumble for Ashe’s offense.
Ashe started the drive off in the air, with a ten-yard pass to Greyson Wells, and then three runs by Jeren Holman pushed the ball into the endzone for the Huskies. On the extra-point play for Ashe, the play that could have tied the game at 14-14, a high snap delayed the kick for Ashe, and when the kick was off, a partial block by Starmount sent the kick wide of the upright, leaving Ashe trailing 14-13 with 8:03 remaining in the game.
Late in the fourth quarter, Starmount was making a drive towards the Huskies’ endzone, but once again, Ashe’s defense was able to strip the ball from the Rams’ running back, stopping a potential scoring drive for Starmount, and kept the score at 14-13.
However, despite creating three fumbles in the fourth quarter, Ashe still could not create any points offensively.
“They were able to run the football, but we created turnovers,” Huskies’ coach Bill Strong commented. “When you create that many turnovers, you got to capitalize, and we didn’t.”
Ashe forced Starmount into eight fumbles, five that were recovered by the Huskies, and also Greyson Wells picked off Jake Barr on one pass for an interception for Ashe. However, to offset the five lost fumbles by Starmount, a tough defensive front by the Rams forced Ashe into eight punts during the loss.
As the time ran out in the fourth quarter, Starmount was able to score a touchdown with 1:09 remaining, off of a ten-yard run by Rashaun Gaither, and the two-point conversion by Gaither gave the Rams a 22-13 lead, which would remain as the final score.
“Our kids played hard,” coach Strong continued, “but so did theirs. It was a great football game, wasn’t as much as our mistakes as it was their execution.”
The loss for the Huskies leaves an uphill climb to close out the season. Ashe in on the road next week, with an away game at Wilkes Central, then closes out the season at home against Surry Central. Starmount returns to play next Friday with a home match up with North Surry. North Surry is currently tied for second place with Ashe, with one loss each. North Surry defeated Wilkes Central this past week to create a tie for second.
Next week, Husky fans will be cheering not only for a victory by Ashe against Wilkes Central, but also for the Greyhounds of North Surry to upset the first ranked Rams. If North Surry comes away with a victory, and Ashe beats Wilkes Central, then there will be a three-way tie for first place heading into the final week of the season. However, a loss by North Surry, will result in Starmount simply needing to beat North Wilkes, on the road, during the last game of the season to win the conference championship.
A loss by Ashe could bump them all the way down to third place, as they would be tied with Wilkes Central with two losses, but then the tie breaker scenario would give Wilkes Central the higher seed. Game time is slated for 7:30 p.m. this Friday at Wilkes Central.