Ashley finishes off Hoke County
Sat. August 24, 2013 at 6:40 p.m. | By Vince Nairn | StarNews Staff Writer | Vince.Nairn@starnewsonline.com
Ashley's Alex Highsmith tackles Hoke County's Brandon McRae on Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 at Ashley High School. (Photo by Jason A. Frizzelle)
Ashley High School had gone 10 years without winning its season-opening football game.
So, naturally, it took overcoming an 18-hour delay, some fourth quarter miscues and two late injuries for the Screaming Eagles to end the streak.
In a game continued from Friday night, Ashley defeated visiting Hoke County 14-7 to start 1-0 for the second time in school history and first since 2003.
"It's a great feeling for us and a great win for our team," senior lineman Frankie Keller said. "I've been waiting for this feeling for a long time."
Lightning halted play at 8:15 Friday night with Ashley leading 14-0. The game was postponed until 2 p.m. Saturday and restarted late in the second quarter.
Ashley went into halftime with its two-score lead intact. The teams then traded punts for the third quarter before the game almost came undone for the Eagles.
Ashley fumbled one punt, had another blocked and committed five penalties in the final period.
"When you're a football team that's not used to winning, it makes it a little harder to learn how to win," Ashley coach Tom Eanes said. "Right now, you want to fix things and get them straight. But at Ashley, you take a victory and you're excited about it."
The Bucks (0-1) took over after the fumble deep in Ashley territory before fumbling it right back to the Eagles. Ashley moved the ball to Hoke County's 35-yard line before a 15-yard penalty derailed the drive.
The ensuing punt was blocked, and Hoke County quarterback Geoffery Thompson scored a touchdown three plays later to pull the Bucks within 14-7. Ashley punted on its next two drives, the last one setting up a final chance for Hoke County with 1:57 to play. But after the drive was extended once on fourth down because of a penalty, the Eagles finally put an end to the game with a fourth-down stop near midfield with 28 seconds to play.
"We haven't overcome adversity very easily," Eanes said. "We've got some things to work on, but at least we won."
The Bucks had success moving the ball but could not hang on to it. Thompson fumbled four times, and running back Brandon McRae coughed it up twice. In all, Hoke County had eight fumbles and lost five, seven of them coming Friday night. Ashley's Mike Rowland also intercepted a pass.
"It was our game plan to make them have to go on long drives," said Keller, who had four tackles for loss. "They ended up making their own mistakes. Hopefully, the next time we get that many fumbles we take more advantage of it."
Thompson ran for a team-high 71 yards for Hoke County. Charles Dent, who ran for 78 yards and both of Ashley's touchdowns, left the game in the fourth quarter with a left ankle injury. Eanes said it was the same leg Dent hurt in 2012 that caused him to miss most of the season. Punter Seth Kujawski was also injured in the fourth quarter.
Eanes said he would know more about the injuries next week.
Vince Nairn: 343-2262
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