By: Anthony Perkins
South Point Keeps a Grip On Second Place (BARELY) With Win Over Ashbrook
Gastonia – Ashbrook High School hosted South Point on Friday night for a Big South Conference contest that went down to the wire thanks to a gritty Ashbrook team and their elusive fullback, Carmello Bess, that bedeviled the South Point defense all night long while piling up 181 yards rushing.
South Point posted the first points of the game on their second possession that started at the Ashbrook 23. The Red Raider defense forced an Ashbrook punt from their 4-yard line after the first Green Wave possession went three and out and netted minus 13 yards. South Point used four plays to cover the short distance and the drive was capped off with a four-yard run by fullback Cam Medlock to give the visitors a 7-0 early lead. For the game, Medlock tallied 153 yards on 26 carries which took him over the 1000-yard mark for the season.
The Green Wave offense found another gear on their second possession and went on a ten play, 65-yard drive that finished up with a Carmello Bess three-yard touchdown run. The touchdown knotted the score at 7-7 with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter but more importantly the Green Wave sent a message to the Red Raiders that they would not be an easy mark.
The next two possessions for both teams yielded little results and no scoring threats by either team. South Points last possession for the first half started at midfield with just over four minutes remaining on the clock. The Red Raiders offense punched and jabbed at the Green Wave defense for a few yards here and a few yards there on an eight-play drive that was finalized with a 9-yard pass from quarterback Patrick Blee to split end Aaron Chaney with just over a minute remaining in the half.
Ashbrook was unable to make a first down on their ensuing drive and South Point took a 14-7 lead into the half.
The Green Wave offense started the second half at their own 20 after the South Point kick off yielded a touchback. In just four plays fullback Carmello Bess single handedly covered 70 yards and on second and goal from the South Point ten, Ashbrooks Jamir Fox pushed it into endzone to put the Green Wave right back into the fray once again. However, a two-point conversion run by Bess was stopped short by the South Point defense to keep the score at 13-14 in favor of the visiting Red Raiders.
The Red Raiders took their first possession of the fourth quarter after forcing an Ashbrook punt. South Point’s William Ross fielded the punt at the South Point 40 and started up the right side, cut across the field to dodge Ashbrook defenders and was finally brought down at the Ashbrook 33 to give the Red Raiders excellent field position. South Point’s Patrick Blee and Cam Medlock used six rushing plays to cover the distance with Medlock toting the pigskin in from five yards out to push the Red Raiders out to a 21-13 lead but there was still over eight minutes remaining in the contest, plenty of time for the Green Wave to crash a Red Raider party.
On their next possession Ashbrook wasted no time to reel in South Point when they went on a six-play, sixty-four yard drive that Bess capped off with a 10-yard run to cut South Point’s lead to just two points at 21-19. Once again, the Green Wave went for two points on the conversion and once again, they came up short when Tavon Leslie’s pass sailed over his target and out of bounds.
South Point sealed the game on their next possession with a ten play, 80-yard drive that Cam Medlock finished off with a 6-yard run to push the Red Raiders out to 28-19 lead.
With just over a minute remaining in the game, Ashbrook did have one more crack at the Red Raiders. Ashbrook was facing a fourth and 10 from their 24 and South Point safety Will Ross slammed the door on a possible Green Wave comeback when he picked a Tavon Leslie pass to essentially end the game.
After the game, South Point coach Adam Hodge said, “This (Ashbrook) is a good team we played tonight and if they would have gotten a few breaks they could easily be 6 and 1 or 7 and 0. This is a competitive conference and you have to come ready to play every night. I told our kids all week that this was going to be a tough game and it was. But, it’s good to be tested so you can see what you’re made of.”
A quick look at the statistics shows just how close this game was and how well these two opponents matched up with each other. South Point tallied 232 yards rushing and 32 yards passing for a total of 264 yards. They moved the chains 12 times, they were flagged three times for 25 yards and they had zero turnovers. Ashbrook totaled 260 yards with 236 yards rushing and 24 yards passing, they had 11 first downs, they were penalized four times for 30 yards and they had one turnover, an interception on their last offensive play.
Next week South Point will be at home to host the Forestview Jaguars while Ashbrook will travel to Kings Mountain to take on the first place Mountaineers.