By Lance Hickey
North Buncombe – The battle of Northern Buncombe county’s finest was all it was cracked up to be for Erwin, as the Warriors completed a gritty comeback victory over a talented North Buncombe program.
“I’m proud of our grit and our toughness,” said Erwin head coach Rodney Pruett. “So many kids are stepping up,” he said. “We had to fight for it, and they earned it tonight.”
North Buncombe raced to a fast start on their second possession, following an Erwin fumble, as Rayce Pickens converted on a one-yard touchdown run to give the BlackHawks a 7-0 lead with five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Erwin responded on the Warriors next drive on a Monty Williams one-yard touchdown run of their own. The Warriors followed by converting on a two-point conversion attempt, taking an 8-7 lead with three minutes remaining in the first quarter.
A North Buncombe interception gave Erwin the ball again, though the Warriors would not respond to the BlackHawks turnover, punting the ball back to North Buncombe.
The BlackHawks found another answer on their next possession, driving the ball 77-yards on 10 plays as Joe Jones scored on a 4-yard touchdown scamper. North Buncombe led 14-8. The BlackHawks would hold this lead into the halftime break.
Erwin came back to life in the second half as Jared Penland quickly found Tre Hutchison for a 9-yard touchdown pass. The Warriors took a 15-14 lead with five minutes remaining in the third quarter. Erwin would capitalize again on another Penland touchdown pass, this time a 35-yard pass to Shy Stillwell as the Warriors took a 21-7 lead. North Buncombe gave itself more life as the BlackHawks blocked the extra-point-attempt field goal.
The BlackHawks were not ready to succumb to the Warriors in defeat yet, as North Buncombe scored on a Trent Cole offensive 54-yard fumble return for a touchdown with 5:17 remaining in the game, inching the BlackHawks within one point at 21-20. North Buncombe would not convert on its extra-point attempt.
The BlackHawks comeback was not enough, though, as Erwin (2-4), (2-1) secured its second victory of the season, while also garnering its second conference victory of the season. Erwin would have 215 offensive yards with 131 of it coming from passing and the rest from rushing. The Hawks had a total of 197 yards with 70 from passing and 127 from rushing. Both teams had two turnovers.
North Buncombe (4-2), (1-2) lost its second conference game of the season and will look for a bounce-back victory at Enka Friday night, while Erwin (2-4), (2-1) will be at home against West Henderson for homecoming.