ASHEBORO â€” The Asheboro football team started the 3-AA playoffs against a Fike team with an identical record and a star running back â€” just like the Blue Comets.
In the end, though, the Golden Demons proved to have a little more oomph, ending Asheboroâ€™s season with a 30-14 win.
â€œWe didnâ€™t capitalize the first two times we had the football,â€ Blue Comets coach Dee Bulla said. â€œAt the end of the game we lost a little heart. The kids played hard. We did a lot better than people thought we would. I hate it for our seniors.â€
Down 7-0 at the half, Asheboro (8-4) started the third quarter with a 70-yard drive capped by a 7-yard rush into the end zone by Dimitri Faglier, tying the game at 7-all with 7:30 left in the third quarter.
After both teams were forced to punt, the Golden Demons (9-3) started on their 20-yard line, marching to the Asheboro 22. It took two rushing plays to score â€” the second a 16-yard trot by Rashad Parker that gave Fike a 14-7 lead 4 seconds into the fourth quarter.
The Blue Comets responded quickly as, on the third play of the ensuing drive, Faglier sped 58-yards into the end zone to not only knot the game again, but also give the junior over 2,000 yards rushing on the season.
On the kickoff, however, Asheboro was hit with a personal foul penalty that gave the Golden Demons the ball on the Blue Comets 38-yard line. With 8:55 left in the game, Parker notched his third touchdown of the night â€” a 5-yard rush up the right side. The point after went wide left, but Fike had a 20-14 lead.
The Blue Comets saw Faglier rumble for 8 yards to start the next drive, but a recovered fumble for a loss and a no-gain rush by quarterback Walter Rush forced Asheboro to punt. Nick Mixonâ€™s kick hit the ground, but rolled backwards 15 yards, making a net punt of 4 yards that gave Fike the ball on the Blue Cometsâ€™ 27.
Still, the Asheboro defense stymied the Golden Demons, who were forced to try a 42-yard field goal. Justin Brewer sank it with room to spare, giving Fike a 23-14 lead with 5:17 remaining in the game.
â€œThere was no question we were going to try it,â€ Golden Demons coach Richie Pridgen said. â€œWe would have tried it if it were on the 34 or the 40.â€
Less than a minute later, Golden Demons defensive back Devin Jackson intercepted a Rush pass, giving his team possession on the Asheboro 16. It took one play â€” a Melvin Howard rush â€” to give Fike a 30-14 lead with just over 4 minutes to play.
Asheboro started the ensuing drive on its 20, but couldnâ€™t muster a first down and gave the ball over on downs with 2:40 left on the clock.
Faglier finished the game with 17 rushes for 153 of his teamâ€™s 217 rushing yards. Rush completed 4 of 11 passes for 41 yards.
For Fike, Howard had 14 rushes for 129 yards and Parker 22 for 112.
â€œHowardâ€™s done a good job for us,â€ Pridgen said. â€œSo has Deante Hill. Parkerâ€™s just been so outstanding all season. … We did look a little rusty at the beginning of the game. Give a lot of credit to Asheboroâ€™s defense. They made it very difficult for us to sustain blocks.â€
The score was 7-0 Fike at the half thanks to an 18-play, 90-yard drive that eight up eight minutes of the first half and ended in a 1-yard touchdown run by Parker.
Asheboro had its chances, facing fourth-and-goal on the 1-inch line on its first drive of the game and seeing a field goal opportunity that went into the back of the offensive line with 3:14 left in the first quarter. The latter led to an injury to starting offensive lineman Phillip Cheek that took him out of the game.
The Blue Comets graduates 17 seniors from this yearâ€™s squad, including Cheek, but Bulla said thereâ€™s hope for next year, especially with Faglier and Rush returning.
â€œWe had over 100 players on varsity and jayvee and our jayvee went 6-4,â€ he said.
No doubt Bulla is hoping that give his squad a little extra power next season.
*****courtesy Megan Crotty, courier-tribune.com*****
We thank Big Jim Modlin for sending this article our way.