A.C. Reynolds Wins, Erwin Loses Exciting Score-a-thon - TribPapers

A.C. Reynolds Wins, Erwin Loses Exciting Score-a-thon

Erwin’s Ty Johnson races upfield after a catch for a long gain. He scored twice Friday. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Asheville – A.C. Reynolds is the last football survivor among Buncombe County public schools after edging Charlotte Chambers Cougars 17-16 at home Friday, a night after the Erwin Warriors went out in a blaze of glory and points in a 62-42 shootout.

Seventh seed A.C. Reynolds Rockets (11-1) on Friday, Nov. 18 host Matthews Butler (10-2), which upset second-seeded Mooresville 41-21. Butler operates the old Wing T, Reynolds head coach Shane Laws noted. “They set up through their run game, but their offense is balanced. They’re very talented.”

Erwin QB Iggy Welch runs for a first down, in his Warrior finale. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
Erwin QB Iggy Welch runs for a first down, in his Warrior finale. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

If the Rockets win, they either go to their recent playoff nemesis Weddington or host 14th seed Northwest Guilford, which upset third seed Watauga 33-27.

Coach Laws lauded the Rockets’ “heart, effort and guts. Our kids are tough, and they’ll fight to the end.” This is Reynolds’ second emotional win over a Cougars squad, after dethroning rival Asheville Cougars for the Mountain Athletic Conference regular season crown.

Jarod Glenn’s clutch 41-yard field goal with 1:27 left held up as the winning points on Friday. This was the senior’s longest field goal ever in varsity action by one yard. Coach Laws praised the entire special teams unit. Holder Aiden Hyatt snared a high snap and got the ball in place for the field goal. Austin Ramirez’s other snaps were on target.

Superior punting was critical. Soccer all-state goalkeeper Sean Green of ACR boomed a 55-yard punt. The Wildcats punted poorly after three plays to set up Reynolds’ winning drive at the Cougar 38 with 4:36 remaining.

The key play was Max Guest gaining eight yards on third-and-16 to get Glenn into his kicking range.

The defense continues as a “difference maker,” and contained an explosive offense, Laws said. “One of our main goals was we couldn’t give up big plays. Their longest (a pass) was for 24 yards.

Before Green’s long punt, ACR foiled a Cougar TD attempt on fourth down and goal to go. Duke-bound safety DaShawn Stone deflected the pass, and ACR took over possession.

“Our offense picked our spots” for its big plays, Laws said. “Our coaches put together a great plan.” Swift running back Guest returned a kickoff to midfield, to start ACR’s first scoring drive. Hayden Craig threw a 41-yard bomb to M.A. Skanes to get close. Craig tossed to Christian Lewis for the TD, then to Wesley Rumbough for a second TD after a fumble recovery.

The two scores quickly wiped out a 9-0 lead that Chambers (9-3) got on a QB sack in the end zone for a safety and then a TD drive. Chambers replied with a TD run to lead 16-14 at halftime, but scored nothing in the second half.

Julius L. Chambers High School was renamed a year ago, from segregationist Gov. Zebulon Vance to civil rights attorney Chambers a year ago.

Entertaining Erwin Finale

Erwin (6-6) stayed with a larger Eastern Guilford (8-4) squad for the first half and rallied in the final quarter of a 62-42 defeat at home.

The Wildcats pulled away with four quick TDs in the third quarter, outscoring Erwin 28-6. In a very rare feat, Jaiden Evans broke free for long scoring runs on three of his team’s first scrimmage plays in that quarter. The Wildcats next scored on a short pass over a bunched-up defense that went 75 yards. Evans totaled 400 yards on seven TD runs alone. They covered 72, 37 and 65 yards in the first half and 65, 29, 57 and 75 yards in the second half.

Both offenses surpassed 500 yards. Erwin senior Iggy Welch passed for 398 yards and four touchdowns — two each to junior Ty Johnson and senior “Meechie” Graves.

Johnson finished with 236 yards on a career-high 16 catches (15 ypc). The receiver threw a 36-yard TD pass after getting a screen from Welch. Johnson also had 31 kickoff return yards. Graves had 167 yards on ten receptions. His 69-yard gain was the team’s longest pass play.

Erwin had nearly twice as many first downs—26 versus 14. The Warriors scored on four of their five “red zone” opportunities.

Rugged, husky senior Phillip Shostak rushed for 76 yards on 24 carries, averaging 3.2 yards. He powered in for Erwin’s first TD. Shostak, his cousin Roman Kazimirets, and kicker Daniel Podayetsky are Ukrainian-Americans on the team. They reflect the fighting spirit of their ancestral homeland.

Head coach Rodney Pruett said the offensive stars showed how “special” they are and that “we belong with them (the Wildcats)” talent-wise.

Daring Calls

Erwin’s play-calling was often daring and successful. For instance, Erwin had fourth and inches from the Wildcat ten. Instead of running a QB sneak, Welch drilled a pass to Johnson for a nine-yard gain to the one.

A double-pass trick play scored Erwin’s final TD. Welch tossed a screen to receiver Johnson. Johnson heaved the ball down to Graves in the end zone, for a 36-yard score.

The first half was dynamic. Johnson caught a TD pass and a two-point conversion pass for a 14-7 lead with 4:20 left in the first quarter. After two Evans TD runs, Welch answered to start the second quarter. He zinged a seven-yard TD pass to Johnson, who cut across to just inside the front center of the end zone. The game was knotted at 21. The teams again traded touchdowns. But EGHS missed its PAT.

Welch threw the dramatic fourth-down completion to Johnson. Welch passed to Hunter Cromer for a one-yard score with 17 seconds before halftime. Podayetsky’s extra point put Erwin ahead by 28–27.

Welch said, “We had that cloud-nine feeling of being up at the half” against such a potent offense.

Welch said during the opening half’s seesaw scoring that “I like it!” He said after the contest that “we like to fly around and have fun!” He relished the pressure of trying to score on most drives. “We knew we gotta keep putting points up on the board.”

Johnson similarly said, “we needed to keep the foot on the gas.” Graves said after the contest that it was fun to “keep up” much of the way and that “I thought we’d beat them.”

The Wildcats pulled away in the third quarter. But Welch kept firing away. He hit Graves for a 69-yard TD to make it 34–42. The double pass scored Erwin’s final TD.

QB Welch pointed out that Pruett’s mid-season dismissal of several problem players bonded the team. Coach Pruett told his players in their post-game huddle that “you sacrificed so much. You belong! We just didn’t make as many (standout) plays. You battled adversity. You fought to the very end.”