Alexander Central 31
Alexander Central finished off the regular season with a come from behind win over Hickory Thursday night in Taylorsville. The game featured some dramatic shifts in momentum between the old rivals at crumbling Cougar Stadium.
The Cougars scored first on a interception return by Jamison Benfield from 35 yards and turned another 1st quarter pick into a score as well. Jesse Schronce intercepted a Hickory pass setting up a 5 play, 77 yard drive to give the Cougars a 14-0 lead when Steven Montgomery found the end zone from 9 yards.
The second quarter was dominated by Hickory in every way. The Cougars struggled on offense with starting quarterback Easton Rhoney leaving with an injury and the Blue and Gold ground attack shut down. Hickory would pull even with a pair of scores in the period. Cody Young scored from one yard followed by a Bryce Stober 20 yard scoring play and the teams went to the break tied. Hickory’s defense had held the Cougars to less than 100 yards in the first half.
Tatiana Pierre was crowned Homecoming Queen and Tara Chatham was named as Homecoming Princess during the halftime ceremony.
The second half was more of the same as the Cougar offense continue to struggle. Hickory took a 17-14 lead when Harrison Boston hit a 23 yard field goal with 5:47 remaining in the 3rd quarter. The game would swing in favor of the Cougars after that and it was the defense that did it. Red Tornado quarterback Bryce Stober, harassed all night by the AC pass rush, was forced into the end zone and called for grounding awarding the Cougars a safety. The momentum shirt was obvious with the game 17-16 in favor of the visitors from Catawba County.
Enter a sophomore for the Cougars at quarterback. Lance Justice took over as the third signal caller of the night for Alexander Central and the Blue and Gold started mixing some passes and moving the chains. Another momentous moment is when Jamison Benfield picked up a crucial first down for the Cougars on a fake punt. AJ Miller would collect a pass from Justice and stroll down the sideline into the end zone putting the Cougars on top with 9:23 remaining in the game. The Cougars would shut down Hickory and put the game away with 4:42 remaining on a 10 yard Tevin Clark scoring play.
Justice would go 5 for 8 passing for 98 yards including a touchdown and an interception. AJ Miller had 62 yards rushing and 72 yards receiving on the night to lead the Cougar offense. The defense which was stubborn all evening was led by Jordan Brown with 11 tackles. Isaac Chapman collected 10 tackles including 4 stops for loss and a sack. Chapman would hound the Hickory quarterback all night forcing him to be far less than comfortable and a bit less than accurate.
The regular season ends with Alexander Central standing at 9-2. They go 5-2 in Northwestern Conference play and will be an at-large team in the postseason. Hickory falls to 5-6 and might miss the playoffs. The post season parings will be revealed Saturday and and play will begin on Friday, November 16th.