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A Night of Justice

A Night of Justice

 

            The Red Raiders had title hopes to start the season despite only having one starter back on the offensive line and Josh Justice and Aaron Crumbley being the only other two starters back from last year’s team that made it to the fourth round of the playoffs before losing 35-7 to West Rowan. Now, those hopes are reality. The Red Raiders advance to the state title game in Chapel Hill after beating Anson County 35-21 in a wild finish.

 

            The Red Raiders got on the board on the first drive of the game when Josh Justice ran for a 37-yard touchdown. Joey Mitchell’s extra point made it 7-0. The Bearcats kept pounding and moving the ball, but would be their own worst enemies in the first half. The Bearcats lost two fumbles and Tydre Crawford of South Point picked off quarterback Jordan Hildreth late in the second quarter deep in their own territory.

 

            The score remained 7-0 at half-time. The Red Raiders stopped Anson County on their first drive in the third quarter and South Point just went to work. Justice extended South Point’s lead to 14-0 on a 20-yard run for a touchdown. Justice would use his arm on the Red Raiders’ next score when he hit Ramon Costner for a 42-yard pass play. The Red Raiders were not done. Justice put what appeared to be the nail in the coffin early in the fourth quarter with a 30-yard run for a touchdown. Mitchell’s extra point made it 28-0.

 

            The Bearcats never quit however. Anson quarterback Jordan Hildreth helped get the Bearcats on the board when he connected with Drew Cole for an eleven yard touchdown pass. Beau Melton’s extra point made it 28-7. The Bearcats would recover an on-side kick and would cap off that drive with another Hildreth-to-Cole touchdown pass, this time from the 45-yard line.

 

            The Bearcats did recover another on-side kick, but turnovers would once again plague the Bearcats as they fumbled near the Red Raider 30-yard line. They would pay dearly for that. Justice continued his big night with another rushing touchdown, this one was for 40 yards.

 

            Anson would make this game interesting, however. Stephone Anthony ripped off a 78-yard run down to the Red Raider seven-yard line. Hildreth ran it in for a touchdown a couple of plays later. The Red Raiders’ lead was cut to 35-21.

 

            Thanks to a South Point fumble, the Bearcats had another chance to get closer. However, Hildreth would throw another interception to seal the deal for the Red Raiders.

 

            “We shot ourselves in the foot the first half (turnovers and penalties).” Anson County head coach Jim Hyatt said “Probably could have been up 21-7 going into half-time. The ball didn’t bounce our way. Kudos to Coach (John) Devine, his staff and his players. They play hard. I’m real proud of them. Congratulations to them. They deserve it.”

 

            “Our kids aren’t quitters in anything they ever do. Those kids battled back and we had a chance to do some things. That’s the way it works. Don’t let this game define what this team has done through the year. We have fought adversity all year long and they keep battling back. They left their legacy this year.”

 

            With team-mate Aaron Crumbley held in check for most of the night that opened the door for Josh Justice to have a big night. He had 225 yards and four touchdowns and passed for another 65 and a touchdown.

 

”They were expecting Aaron (Crumbley), they were closing on him all night so that made the hole much wider.” Justice said “Last week I didn’t have a bunch of yards so I think they overlooked me and the offensive line was blocking like never before. That’s the kind of team we have. I don’t care who scores as long as we win. I can’t thank the offensive line enough. Nobody gives them enough credit because they’re undersized. They think it’s just me and Aaron out there, but without the offensive line we have nothing.”

 

Regarding Anson rally in the fourth quarter, Justice commented “I was getting so scared. That would be the worst way to ever get kicked out of the playoffs to know you have the win in your hands and to let it slip. I’m glad the defense held when they could and I’m glad that we could shave off a bunch of blocks. You gotta give credit to Anson for having heart like that, never stopping and made it a good game.”

 

“Great win for us, the kids, the community. It’s a lot of excitement. They played their fannies off. There’s no doubt about it.” South Point head coach John Devine said “They played with tremendous heart and tremendous effort. Hopefully they can bring a (championship) ring home, a Christmas gift.”

 

“One of the best effort runs I’ve ever seen.” Devine commented on Josh Justice’s last touchdown run “When he twisted and turned all the way down the field. He had some great blocks there and in between, but a lot of it was just tremendous effort.”

 

When asked to compare this team to the 2003 state championship team, Devine said “That ’03 team was a bunch of old kids, strong old kids. This bunch here is a bunch of young kids that just love to play. The only similar thing is that they both love to play. We got four sophomores starting on defense. We’re really young. We only have two seniors starting on defense so that bodes well for the future.”

 

“Unbelievable effort.” Devine commented on the growth of the youthful offensive line that returned only one starter from last year’s team “They put a lot of heart and soul into it. Without those guys you don’t go anywhere.”

 

Regarding Anson’s rally in the fourth quarter Devine said “Well, we just needed to get the ball, get on the ball. They executed well and that’s just the way t was. It’s tremendous effort all around. We’re just glad to be going down to the Hill.”

 

South Point will face off with South Johnston next Saturday in Chapel Hill for the 3AA State Championship. South Johnston beat Southern Nash 33-32 in three overtimes.

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