The West Lincoln Rebels have been a surprise team this year. Last year, they made history with their first ever nine-win season. Last week, they made history with their first ever playoff win as they romped #5 Ashe County 48-6. With South Point knocking off #4 Smoky Mountain in that same bracket, they got to host their first ever playoff game. It would not be easy as South Point is usually at their best this time of year.
Both teams came up empty on their first drives as West Lincoln was forced to punt and South Point missed a field-goal. The Rebels got on the board first with a two-yard touchdown run by Mason Huitt (PAT missed). The Red Raiders stormed back with a two-yard touchdown run by Hunter Hogue. Carson Smith’s extra point kick gave the Red Raiders the 7-6 lead.
The Rebels would take the lead back with another two-yard touchdown run. This time, it would be Canon Bridges with the touchdown. Xander Pendergrass’s run for the two-point conversion put the Rebels up by seven. After stopping South Point on the next drive, the Rebels would be in position to extend their lead. But with time running out, they had to settle for a 37-yard field-goal. But it would sail wide and 14-7 would remain the half-time score.
The Red Raiders received the second half kickoff and went straight to work. They would tie the game up with a ten-yard touchdown run by Hogue (PAT good). Assisted by two personal foul penalties by South Point, West Lincoln would be in prime scoring position. They took advantage and took the lead back with an eight-yard run by Mason Huitt. They went for two and initially got it but a holding penalty took it off the board. Alex Gutierrez would hit the point after kick to put the Rebels up 21-14.
The Red Raiders would get another scoring drive going in the fourth quarter and with just less than six minutes left in the game, the Red Raiders would knot the game up again. This time, it was an eight-yard run by Devon King (PAT good). But the defense could not hold. Canon Bridges’ three-yard touchdown and Xander Pendergrass’s run for the two-point conversion would put the Rebels up for good, 29-21.
With just less than a minute and half to go in the game, the Red Raiders just did not have time to mount a solid drive. West Lincoln makes history again as they eclipse their win total from last year and get their first ten-win season in school history. South Point ends their season at 6-7.
Bridges led West Lincoln’s offense with 179 yards and two touchdowns. Huitt amassed 111 yards rushing and had a key 17-yard pass in the third quarter and two rushing touchdowns. Hunter Hogue led South Point with 153 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
West Lincoln (10-3) will travel to play Shelby next week. Shelby eliminated West Lincoln from the playoffs last year in the first round 27-8 last year. The Golden Lions advanced with a 49-7 over Maiden.
“(West Lincoln) has a good team. They played hard and have a bunch of hard-nosed kids.” said South Point head coach Adam Hodge “It comes down to execution in the end. They executed and made plays in the end and we didn’t.”
“It was a battle. Anytime you play South Point, it’s going to be a battle. They are very well-coached.” said West Lincoln head coach Darren Ponder “Every time we adjusted to something, they adjusted to it and we’d have to adjust back. Our kids had the best two weeks of practice that we had the all year. They won’t quit. I tell the kids that there will be highs and lows every week. (When South Point tied it) it was one of those low points. Our word for this year is relentless and that’s what they were tonight.”