By Charles Curcio, Sports Editor
Sunday, September 8, 2013 —
The recent history of games between the football programs of Albemarle and West Stanly has been one of lopsided victories by both sides, with only one game since 1999 having a margin of victory less than 10 points.
That closer margin of victory came in 2007 when Albemarle, after being shut out 33-0 and 34-0 the previous two years, earned a 15-13 win that started the current win streak on the field that the Bulldogs took into Friday night’s home game with the Colts.
After three quarters of play, the game remained scoreless, but the final dramatic 12 minutes saw the Bulldogs rally late for a 9-7 win over West Stanly.
The win was the first for first-year Albemarle head coach Seth Smith and puts the Bulldogs out in first place in the battle for the Stanly Cup with a 1-0 record. West drops to 1-1 in county games this season with North still having not played a Stanly opponent yet this season and South at 0-1 after their loss to West.
The first half was dominated by both team’s defenses, as well as several turnovers.
Albemarle’s second drive four minutes into the game ended when a Bryan Blanton pass was intercepted by Michael Barkley.
Colt defensive lineman Luis Solorio came up with a turnover for West recovering a Larry Stanback fumble with just over a minute left in the opening frame.
West twice went for it on fourth down on drives in the first quarter but were stopped by the Albemarle Oak Tree defense.
Both teams played a field position battle in the second quarter, with the final drive of the period as the closest either team got to the other’s endzone. West drove down to the Albemarle 24 in the final two minutes, but Lee Autry sacked Colt quarterback Matt Price on the final play of the half, keeping the game scoreless at halftime.
West Stanly appeared to gain momentum from their last drive of the first half when the Colts marched down the field on the opening drive of the second half. B.J. Hill busted out the longest offensive play of the game to that point for the Colts, a 32-yard run straight down the middle of the field as West drove from the Colt 25 to the Albemarle 17-yard line. But the Albemarle defense held and denied the Colts.
West eventually put together a scoring drive starting with 2:29 left in the third quarter. Price converted a 3rd down and 5 at the Colt 42 with a 16-yard scramble for a first down, then McCormick pushed the ball even further downfield with 13 yards on back-to-back carries.
The Colts found paydirt on the eighth play of that drive when Hill carried tacklers into the endzone from 14 yards out. Brady Ennis’ extra point gave West Stanly a 7-0 lead 35 seconds into the final period.
Albemarle immediately answered the West Stanly touchdown two plays later when Blanton found Travis Bennett on a fly pattern down the center of the field for a 69-yard touchdown strike. However, the extra point was no good as the ball slipped off the tee leaving the Colts up by a single point.
West got the ball back on their own 20 and took four minutes off the clock, punting the ball down to the Albemarle 34-yard line.
Blanton then got the ball to someone that Smith called “one of our playmakers” in wideout Timmie White. After an 11-yard catch for a first down, White got behind the Colt defense on the left side for a 43-yard gain down to the 12-yard line.
A facemask call moved the ball half the distance to the goal, and the Bulldogs called on all 290 pounds of Lee Autry to join the offensive backfield as a fullback. Albemarle was whistled for an illegal procedure call, then runs by Stanback and Autry put the ball at the one-yard line. On third down, Blanton’s play-action pass to Andre Ridenhour fell just short, bringing in Mason Krol and the field-goal unit.
This time, the snap and hold were perfect, and Krol knocked through an 18-yard field goal to put Albemarle up 9-7.
“Mason is a clutch guy,” Smith later said of the team’s kicker.
On the ensuring kickoff, West got a huge return by Blaine Long down to the Albemarle 43-yard line. With Trey Barbee in at quarterback, the Colts drove down to the Albemarle 23-yard line, but two yards lost and a sack of Barbee by A.J. Harris and E.J. Pemberton put the Colts in a difficult position, facing third down and 22 from the Albemarle 35.
The next play that happened after the Colts called their final timeout will be talked about for years to come.
Barbee survived the furious rush of the Oak Tree defense and threw a long pass deep into the Albemarle night sky that found its way into the hands of Ethan Morgan for an apparent touchdown. However, a penalty marker was lying in the Colt backfield and the referee signaled a holding penalty against West.
On the next play, Kani Sellers sacked Barbee and forced a fumble that Pemberton recovered to secure the win for the Bulldogs.
“This was a huge win, especially after the struggles our first two games. (The team) worked hard all week and believed in themselves,” Smith said.
Smith also credited White with his efforts, saying that Timmie “is a guy with amazing speed; he can get past a lot of people and he has all season long.”
“I am proud of the effort our kids had. Both teams played very hard but there were a few mistakes that really hurt us. We have to learn from them and put this game behind us,” West head coach James Johnson said.
This Friday, Albemarle travels to East Montgomery while West Stanly will face North Stanly.
WS 0 0 0 7 7
A 0 0 0 9 9
WS – B.J. Hill 14 run (Brady Ennis kick), 11:25, 4th
A – Travis Bennett 69 pass from Bryan Blanton (kick failed), 10:30, 4th
A – Mason Krol 18 FG, 4:45, 4th
1st Downs 15 9
Rushing 54-183 26-29
Passing 9 148
C-A-I 7-9-1 6-17-1
Punts 4-26.5 5-33.8
Penalties 4-51 8-66
Fum.-Lst. 4-1 3-1
3rd Down 5-16 4-12
4th Down 0-4 0-0
T.O.P. 29:50 18:10
Rushing: WS – Ryan McCormick 23-46; Hill 11-87; Price 14-32; Barbee 6-18. A – Stanback 14-29; Blanton 7-3; Mack 2-6; Autry 1-3; Nivens 1-0; White 1-(-12).
Passing: WS – Price 1-7, 9 yds. A – Blanton 6-17, 148 yds., 1 TD, 1 int.
Receiving: WS – Morgan 1-9. A – White 3-66; Bennett 1-69, TD; Ridenhour 1-10; Stanback 1-3.