NORTHWESTERN 3A-4A ROUNDUP
Freedom rallies late to beat Cougars;
Watauga wins to take over first place
Scoring the first five times it had the ball, South Caldwell High rolled to a 50-10 road victory over McDowell on Friday night that should get the Spartans into the state playoffs.
Since South Caldwell and McDowell are the only 4A teams in the Northwestern 3A-4A, the winner of their game usually gains the conference’s lone 4A playoff bid.
The Spartans are 4-3, 1-1 and the Titans are 1-6, 0-3, and McDowell would have to finish ahead of South Caldwell in the standings to take the postseason bid away.
South Caldwell ran for 313 yards and had 507 yards of offense to beat the Titans for the fifth straight time in Marion.
Isaiah Kirby, Avery Raynor and Austin Raynor each ran for more than 70 yards for South Caldwell, which led 36-3 by halftime.
Avery Raynor ran 7 yards and Kirby added an 8-yard TD run in the opening quarter for the Spartans, who led 16-0 after two-point conversion runs by Austin Raynor and Avery Raynor.
South Caldwell scored three times in 3 ½ minutes to open a 33-point lead at the half.
After a field goal by McDowell, the Spartans got a 1-yard TD run by Austin Raynor, a 66-yard scoring pass from Avery Raynor to Kirby and a 49-yard TD pass from Avery Raynor to Austin Raynor.
Riley Moore threw for 169 yards for McDowell, hitting Richard Handy four times for 93 yards and one score.
Avery Raynor completed seven of eight passes for 194 yards for the Spartans with Austin Raynor making five catches for 124 yards.
Freedom 46, Alexander Central 42
The Patriots (5-3, 2-1) share second place with Hickory after knocking off the Cougars (4-3, 0-2) in Morganton.
Quarterback Jayden Birchfield, who left last week’s win at Alexander Central with an injury, returned with 355 passing yards and had a hand in six scores for the Patriots.
Alexander Central had a 17-point lead with about five minutes to go before Freedom wiped that out.
The Cougars led 42-25 with nine minutes, 42 seconds to play.
Birchfield then threw his fourth TD pass of the game, 7 yards to Demorian Burgess and it was 42-31 with a bit more than five minutes to play.
Freedom recovered an onside kick and then drove 50 yards to get a 10-yard scoring run by Birchfield and two-point conversion run by Chase Young.
Down 42-39 with 3:54 to go the Patriots again tried an onside kick and recovered it.
Going 58 yards in 10 plays, Freedom scored on a 2-yard run by Birchfield with less than 30 seconds to play.
Birchfield and Burgess made defensive plays and Alexander Central’s last drive was stopped at midfield.
Freedom beat Alexander Central for the 24th time in 29 games since 1985 and dropped the Cougars to 1-14 in Morganton in that same timeframe.
The Patriots have now won five or more games in 11 consecutive seasons.
Watauga 56, Hickory 28
The Pioneers (7-1, 3-0) took over sole possession of first place in the Northwestern 3A-4A by doubling up the Red Tornadoes (2-6, 2-1).
Watauga scored 21 points to break away from Hickory after a 21-all tie at the half.
Anderson Castle sandwiched runs of 6 and 2 yards for scores around a 39-yard TD run by Jaiden Bond in the third quarter for Watauga.
The Pioneers ran 42 times for 444 yards and had 500 yards of total offense, led by Castle’s 18 rushes for 202 yards and Bonds’ five carries for 105 yards.
Running back Cody Young ran 25 times for 148 yards to lead Hickory.
Young scored on runs of 2 and 3 yards as HHS took a 21-14 lead, and Watauga tied it at the half when Bond threw 42 yards to Grant Oliver for a score.
Watauga had 30 first downs – 28 via rushing – and was able to overcome the Red Tornadoes converting six of 10 third downs and twice in two fourth-down attempts.
St. Stephens 35, North Iredell 14
The Indians (4-3) won a non-conference game on the road with Zak McLauchlin running for two scores and 106 yards and quarterback Connor Williams throwing for 180 yards and a TD.
St. Stephens opened a 21-7 lead after one quarter and led 28-7 at the half.
Williams threw 12 yards to Zach Lee, who had seven catches for 129 yards, for the game’s first score.
Matthew Hancock, who ran 16 times for 76 yards, scored on a 21-yard run to help the Indians open a 14-0 lead.
McLauchlin’s first TD was a 4-yard run and the Indians led 21-7. His second was for 62 yards in the second quarter.
The Indians finished with 424 yards of offense and they have matched their win total of 2018.
The teams had last played in 2006 and the Indians’ last win in Olin was in 1997.