Albemarle falls to Thomasville in second round of playoffs

Published 2:34 pm Saturday, November 11, 2023

There are approximately 19 high schools in North Carolina who use the bulldog as the mascot.

Two of the most successful programs are Albemarle and Thomasville. In the first decade of the 21st century, Albemarle won five 1-AA state titles (2001, 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010) and Thomasville four (2004, 2005, 2006, 2008).

Head-to-head, Thomasville entered Friday’s game at Albemarle winning the all-time series 32-9, but the playoff record between the two schools was tied at three wins each.

Four interceptions in the first half kept Thomasville working with good starting field position, and the visitors took advantage, building a lead with five straight touchdowns en route to a 41-13 win.

After a scoreless first quarter, Thomasville (9-3) took advantage of a turnover early in the second. After picking off an Ander Artis pass, Kevin Robinson scored on a 20-yard touchdown run, the first of three TD runs in the period.

Later in the second, Dre Davis, in at QB for Albemarle (6-6), tried to set up Zyion Geiger for a wide receiver screen. The pass was thrown a little too early for Geiger. It deflected off the hands of another Bulldogs receiver, Jaylen Pinkney, and bounced into the hands of Thomasville’s Jerome Robinson.

Midway through the third quarter, it was Albemarle’s turn to pick off a pass. Christian Harris picked off a Keshawn Carpenter pass into the end zone.

The pick gave Albemarle some momentum as the hosts drove into Thomasville territory. However, an errant throw on fourth down by Artis was picked off by Iyzir Black, who returned it 63 yards for a touchdown.

Trailing 34-0 in the final six minutes, Albemarle finally caught a break when a bad punt snap set the home team up at the Thomasville 15. Later on fourth down, Artis found Geiger in the back right corner of the end zone for a touchdown.

Albemarle’s defense then put more points on the board when Pinkney returned a Thomasville fumble 38 yards for a touchdown.

Thomasville added a touchdown in the final minute of the game.

“Things just snowballed,” Albemarle head coach Richard Davis said about the second quarter. “We played great defense in the first quarter, and then in the second, we had the turnovers and were constantly on the short field…there, you’ve got to be perfect.”

Davis said he couldn’t be prouder of how Albemarle came out and fought in the second half, calling his team “a resilient group,” saying it “has been that way all year.”

The Albemarle head coach called the 2023 season the best season by far he has had at the helm. This season, Albemarle overcame an 0-4 start to win the Yadkin Valley Conference title for the first time since 2012.

“(The season) didn’t start the way we wanted from the injuries and everything, (suffering) heartbreaking losses, but this group kept believing,” Davis said. “I told (the team) they have something no one can take away from them: they have a conference title.”

Albemarle also ended a long losing streak to North Stanly, which Davis said the players “will have bragging rights on forever. I’m proud of those seniors…they laid a great foundation for us to continue to build on.”

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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