It wasn’t supposed to end this way ! That’s the feeling for Alexander Central’s football team after a disappointing 35-28 first round playoff loss to Cuthbertson Friday night in Taylorsville.
Sometimes athletics can be cruel and Friday night was proof of that for the Cougars who entered the game with a record of 10-1. It looked like it might be a rout after Alexander Central forced a punt after the first possession by the visitors from Union County. On the first play from scrimmage Bryson Godfrey raced 83 yards on a toss sweep and the home team was up 7-0, just one minute and 13 seconds into the game.
The Cavaliers who sneaked into the post season with a record of 4-7 albeit against brutal competition would counter quickly. Tailback Myles Wallace ran into the north end zone capping a 5 play, 62 yard drive and the game was tied.
The Cougars countered before end of the opening period when quarterback Gunnar Anderson found a wide open Curtis Evans in the end zone from 5 yards and it was 14-7 in favor the of the Blue and Gold. The Cavaliers got within 4 with a 35 yard field goal early in the second period but the Cougars got another touchdown from Gunnar Anderson who scored from 5 yards the and it was 21-10 in favor of the higher seeded home team.
One of the games crucial moments happened early in the third period. The Cougars took the kick and marched it into Cuthberson territory but they were denied on a 4th and 1 at the Cavalier 36 yard line. The spot was so close it forced the officials to study it from every angle before determining it was short. The momentum seemed to shift at that point. The visitors got another field goal from Brendan Sroczynski from 24 yards and the ACHS lead was cut to 8.
The two teams traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter and the Cougars were clinging to a 7 point lead heading into the crucial five and a half minutes. It was at this point that the Cougars started having problems hanging onto the ball. Jamison Benefiled picked off a Cuthbertson pass and returned it for a few yards before losing the ball. The Cavaliers pounced on it and got a chance to take the lead.
Davis Walker hit Dylan Tierney from 14 yards with 3:41 remaining and the contest was knotted at 28. The Cougars took possession and on a screen pas from Anderson to Devon Weiss that picked up 40 yards, Weiss fumbled and the Waxaw visitors had a chance to pull the upset. They did ! Walker hit Trevor Grant from 65 yards and the score was 35-28 in favor of Cuthbertson with just 1:19 on the clock.
The Cougars moved into Cavalier territory but their season came to an end with Gunnar Anderson’s pass with less than 30 seconds was picked off.
For the visitors it was vindication to the critics that opined , “no 4-7 team should be in the playoffs.” For Alexander Central it was a cruel dose of reality. Following the game some of the Cougars either stood, sit, or kneeled in disbelief well after the clock had gone to zeros. It was almost like a tomb in the stadium well after the crowd has exited and headed home. Some of the seniors from ACHS still couldn’t force themselves to leave the field. Bryson Godfrey took off his shoes and left them at midfield as did some others. Time heals all wounds it is said, but this one might take a long time.
Alexander Central finishes the season with a record of 10-2. They won the Northwestern Conference championship and hosted a playoff game, but just one playoff game. Devon Weiss was headed to the parking lot and said, “I messed up out there, I’m sorry” in reference to his fourth quarter fumble.
Weiss and the other seniors have nothing to be sorry for. They endured a couple mediocre seasons followed by a winning season in 2016 and a conference title this fall. They leave behind a program that without question is geared for consistent excellence. It just wasn’t supposed to end this way !