Red Raiders Moving On To Fourth Round
By: Anthony Perkins
Belmont – The South Point Red Raiders hosted the Crest Chargers for the third round of the NCHSAA 3A playoffs on Friday night and escaped with a 21-20 victory in a game that went back and forth and eventually came down to the last drive of the game before the winner was decided.
South Point defeated the Chargers at home in week seven of the regular season by a 35-13 score but the Chargers let the Red Raiders know very quickly that this would not be a repeat performance for the home team.
Crest forced a punt on South Points first possession and then their offense went on a six play, 74-yard drive for their first score that was capped off with a one-yard touchdown pass from Ny’tavious Huskey to Tyjay Carson. Nick Sanchez was accurate on the point after to give the visitors a quick 7-0 lead.
South Point could not answer on their next possession and after a punt the Chargers set up shop at the South Point 49-yard line to give Crest excellent field position. The next Crest drive went for fifty-one yards and took only seven plays to yield their second score of the opening quarter. That score resulted from 12-yard pass from Huskey to Malachi Addison that consumed most of the remaining time in the first quarter and it was beginning to look like the Chargers might run away with the game.
However, the Red Raiders flipped the game and their fate by controlling the second quarter. South Point’s “Red Bone” offense had the ball for over nine minutes in the quarter and two drives yielded two touchdowns. The first drive started with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter and spilled over into the second quarter. The end result was a 10 play, 63-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard run by fullback Cam Medlock that cut the Crest lead to 14-7. South Point’s second score came on a 4-yard run by quarterback Patrick Blee with just over a minute remaining before the half and Charlie Birwistle’s point after sent the teams into the half knotted up at 14-14.
Crest received the kick-off to start the second half and used less than two minutes to recapture the lead when Huskey connected with AJ Adams, who had gotten behind the South Point secondary, for a 46-yard touchdown toss and a 20-7 Crest lead. Little did anyone realize that a missed extra point attempt by the Chargers would wind up being the difference in the ball game, but for the moment the Chargers still held a 20-14 lead.
The Red Raiders would answer on their next possession with a 65-yard drive that culminated in a 3-yard run by Cam Medlock. South Point lined up for the extra point attempt and the kick went through but a whistle from an offside call on Crest meant that they had to do it all over again. Birtwistle came through again for the Red Raiders to give them a tenuous 21-20 advantage against a Charger team that was having no trouble moving the ball and you had to feel that it would not be enough if you were a Red Raider fan.
The Chargers were held to a three and out on their next possession and after a Crest punt the Red Raiders started their next drive at their own thirty-seven. After advancing the ball to the Crest 24 the clock for the third period went to all zeroes and it looked like South Point might be driving for another score that would have given them a little breathing room but on the second play of the fourth quarter the Red Raiders coughed up the ball and the Chargers recovered to end the South Point scoring threat.
After the turnover Crest turned the ball over on downs at the South Point 46. The Red Raider offense couldn’t do much better and a three and out resulted in a punt. The Chargers took possession at the Crest 13 with just under seven minutes remaining in the contest. Crest moved the ball to the South Point 4 with some nifty runs by Huskey and fullback Aiden Carson but most of the damage, 64 yards, was covered through the air with AJ Adams catching most of the passes. With a first and goal at the four-yard line and less than two minutes left on the clock if looked as if the Chargers were going to be able to pull out the win. A first down run by Huskey moved the ball to the one, second and third down runs by Dereck Mitchell yielded no results and with just over a minute left on the clock Crest called a time out to talk strategy. Of course, the Red Raiders were able to do the same and the coaching staff made one change in the personnel. Six-foot, seven-inch, Notre Dame commit, Sullivan Abshner came in for the specific purpose of rushing the passer. On the snap, Huskey dropped back to pass and when he released the ball, Abshner swatted the ball harmlessly to the ground to preserve the goal line stance by the Red Raiders. Sullivan usually plays on the offense side of the ball and after the game I asked him if he was put in just to rush the quarterback and how did the pull off the block. He said, “Yes, I was put in just for that purpose and I was able to get by the line and I had a path to the quarterback. I just put my hands up and I was able to make a basketball block on the football.”
Even though South Point stopped the drive they were pinned down inside the one-yard line and although Crest was out of time-outs, it would take at least two snaps before the clock would run out to end the game. A first down run by Patrick Blee netted one yard. A second down run by Cam Medlock netted another yard but the ball was knocked loose and a pile up for control of the ball ensued. All of the Crest players were jumping up and down as though they had recovered the ball but when the pile was untangled South Point wingback Dawson Tobin came up holding the ball to preserve the South Point win for a second time and the final 21-20 score.
After the game South Point coach Adam Hodge said, “Anytime you get down by 14, like we did, and can come back to get you in a position to win you have done good. Our kids showed a lot of heart tonight and we played well. The Crest quarterback is a great athlete and he gave us a lot of problems. It could have gone either way but we get to play after Thanksgiving and that’s always a good thing.”
Not only was the game close on the score board the statistics were also close. Crest netted 359 total yards with 88 yards rushing and 271 yards passing. Huskey went 20 for 27 in the passing department and he carried the ball twelve times for 56 yards rushing. They moved the chains 15 times and they were penalized seven times for 77 yards.
South Point totaled 291 yards with Cam Medlock gaining 108 of their 270 rushing yards. Blee completed three of four passes for 21 yards. The Red Raiders had 16 first downs and they were penalized four times for 55 yards.
With the win, South Point earned the right to play at home next week where they will line up against East Guilford who defeated West Henderson on Friday night.