By: Anthony Perkins
Red Raiders Tame Panthers with a 75-41 Victory
Greensboro – Oh what a difference a year makes, especially when it comes to High School Football. Last year the Dudley Panthers defeated the South Point Red Raiders with a 38-0 shutout and this year’s teams compared favorably to last year’s teams, at least on paper. Dudley entered the game averaging over 40 points per game while giving up only 13 points per game. South Point entered the game averaging over 40 points per game and they were allowing nearly 18 points per game. Dudley was a slight favorite entering the game according to some of the high school web sites but what do they know? The game still has to be played on the field by young men and high school football usually offers some surprises.
The game started out just like last year. South Point won the toss and deferred to the second half. Last year Dudley returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown after South Point had their runner pinned inside the 20 before he escaped for the long return. This year, kicker Charlie Birtwistle made sure that wouldn’t happen by booting the opening kickoff eight yards deep into the end-zone for a touchback. It seemed evident that the tables had really turned when on Dudley’s first play from scrimmage, South Point defender, Aiden Ramirez, snagged Andrew Attmore’s pass out in the right flat and scooted fifteen yards into the end-zone for a quick 6-0 South Point lead.
However, the Panther’s quickly regained their composure and ran off 21 unanswered points, all within the first quarter. The Dudley scores came on a five-yard run by Jalen Hicks, a 35-yard TD pass from Attmore to Nasir Newkirk and a 95-yard punt return by Kordell Bartley.
After Bartley’s punt return South Point stunned the Panthers on the ensuing kick-off when William Ross returned the pooch kick for 75 yards all the way down to the Dudley one. On the next play Cam Medlock crashed into the endzone on a fullback dive play to cut the Panther lead to 21-13. South Point surprised Dudley again on the ensuing kickoff by perfectly executing an onside kick to give the ball back to the offense with just over a minute remaining in the opening quarter.
South Point’s drive rolled over into the second quarter but they were unable to capitalize on the on-side kick recovery and turned the ball over on downs inside the Dudley 10 but even that seemed to work to South Point’s advantage. The Red Raiders defense stiffened and forced a Panther punt from their own ten that resulted in good field position for the South Point offense. The Red Raiders drew closer when quarterback Patrick Blee connected with Dawson Tobin on a 23-yard toss to make the score 20-21 but the stubborn Panthers answered on their next possession when RJ Baker broke free for a 32-yard run and a two-point conversion pushed the Panther’s out to a 29-20 advantage. The Red Raider offense refused to buckle and freshman quarterback Patrick Blee scored on the very next play from scrimmage with a brilliant 69-yard touchdown run up the middle. Birtwistle connected on the point after to close the scoring gap to 29-27 with only 2:00 minutes remaining in what had been an action filled first half of play.
The South Point defense dug in and was able to contain the Panthers offense and force another punt. A strategic use of time-outs by the Red Raider coaching staff had given the offense just over a minute on the clock when they started their next possession near mid-field. The come-back was completed when Blee posted his second score on a seven-yard run with 28 seconds left on the clock to give the Red Raiders a 34-29 half-time lead that they would not surrender for the remainder of the contest.
South Point opened up the second half with two touchdowns stretching their lead to 48 -29. Their first score was set up with a 44-yard punt return by William Ross down to the Dudley 11. Blee added the exclamation point on the next play when carried the ball into the end-zone on the first play from scrimmage. The Red Raider’s defense set up the next score by forcing a Dudley punt on their next possession and a mishandled snap resulted in the Panthers failing to get the punt away before being taken down by the South Point defense. The result: First and ten for South Point at the Dudley 23. Four plays later Blee pushed the ball into the end-zone on a 1-yard quarterback keeper.
Dudley scored on the first play of their next drive when RJ Baker broke into the secondary and flew past the South Point defense for an 80-yard touchdown run. A two-point conversion attempt failed and the score stood at 48-35 in favor of South Point.
South Point then went on one of their familiar, time-consuming scoring drives that used nearly all of the remaining time in the third quarter. The 82-yard drive was completed with a 26-yard scoring toss from Patrick Blee to Elijah Phifer. Score: SP:55 D:35
South Point added three more scores in the fourth quarter; a one-yard run by Blee, a fumble recovery in the end-zone by Jack Milford, and an eight-yard run by Elijah Phifer. Dudley added one touchdown to their total on a 32-yard run by Baker to account for the 74-41 final score.
Dudley accumulated 380 yards on offense with 200 yards rushing and 180 yards passing and they totaled 16 first downs.
They were penalized seven times for 65 yards and they lost two fumbles. Quarterback Andrew Attmore completed 10 of 21 passes but in the process, he also had two interceptions.
South Point’s offense racked up 353 yards rushing with fullback Cam Medlock posting over 130 yards and Blee grabbed 200 yards to account for the majority of the yardage. Blee also completed 4 of 6 passes for 87 yards to bring the total offensive output to 440 yards. South Point also had 16 first downs, they were penalized eight times for 75 yards and they had zero turnovers. Also, South Point kicker, Charlie Birtwistle connected on7 of 8 point-after attempts and seven of his ten kick-offs went into the end-zone for touchbacks.
This game featured several big plays by the special teams that resulted in 168 return yards for the Dudley Panthers to bring their total yardage to 544 yards, and 248 return yards for the South Point Red Raiders to push their yardage total to 688 yards.
After the game I talked with South Point standouts Cam Medlock and Patrick Blee and I asked them, “What had to happen for you guys to have the kind of night you had? Blee answered, “When you have this kind of night everything has to go right. And tonight, everything went right for us, good reads and great blocking?” Medlock agreed and added, “The coach told us all week that we have to believe in ourself and we have to have faith in our teammates and if everybody does what they are supposed to do, we will do well; and he was right.”
No matter who you may have been pulling for, in the end you would have to admit that this was an exciting game that had a little bit of everything and something for everybody all rolled up into 48 minutes of non-stop action.
Next week the Red Raiders will be at home to face a familiar conference foe, the Crest Chargers who defeated Oak Grove by a score of 42-15.