By David Rogers. BOONE, N.C. — At the outset of Wednesday’s middle school football game, visiting West Alexander seemed to have control. Receiving the ball on the kickoff, the Bulldogs orchestrated an opening drive that consumed the entire first quarter — and kept the Watauga Wolverines’ offense off the field.
Eventually, Watauga held and the ball was turned over to the Wolverines on downs, but the stage had been set for an afternoon battle.
Taking their first possession inside the defending red zone, the potent Wolverines offense ground out roughly an 88 yard scoring drive, culminating with a 20-yard scamper to the end zone by Coy Greer. The 2-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the score at 6-0.
Had the Watauga defense not stiffened in the second half and the hosts continuing to get good offensive production in the second half, the missed conversion could have been a significant, deciding factor in the outcome. That’s because West Alexander returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards for a special teams TD. The Bulldogs’ 2-point conversion was successful, putting the visitors ahead, 8-6. with under two minutes remaining in the half.
Wolverines head coach Michael Neff said after the game that when they got the ball back with under two minutes remaining, “We were trying to go fast and ended up with Coy Greer scoring the go-ahead TD from 25 yards out and, when he did, there were only 10 seconds left on the clock.”
Greer added to the cushion by rushing for the 2-point conversion, allowing Watauga to take 14-8 lead going into intermission.
Having won the opening coin toss and deferring, Watauga received the kickoff to open the second half and didn’t waste any time in putting the ball back into the end zone.
“We put another drive together with a mix of runs from Coy Greer, Chauncey Garvin, Brayson Gough and Chase Watts,” said Neff. “We had a long run from Garvin to put us within two yards and ran a QB sneak to punch it in with Chase Watts. Unfortunately, our 2-point conversion attempt failed.”
That left the score, 20-8, still early in the second half. West Alexander was driving down the field on their next possession but the Watauga defense stiffened and the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs inside the Wolverine 5-yard line.
“We were able to put another drive together trying to kill some clock time in the fourth quarter,” said Neff. “Our last score came on an outside toss to Coy Greer that went for about 60 yards. He broke one tackle and outran the rest of the defense up the right side. We got the 2-point conversion on a sweep with Brayson Gough rushing it in.”
Traditionally, the middle school teams play a “5th Quarter,” allowing many of the reserves not seeing action in the primary game a chance to get some playing experience.