Porter Ridges rolls over Watauga
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
STATE 4-A PLAYOFFS: PORTER RIDGE 69, WATAUGA 0
Headline: THE PURPLE STORM
subhed: Porter Ridge buries Pioneers in first round of playoffs
INDIAN TRAIL – It didn't take Porter Ridge long to take control of the Watauga Pioneers. Once the Pirates did, there was nothing the Pioneers could do.
Porter Ridge overwhelmed an out manned Watauga team in the first half of a 69-0 victory in the first round of the state 4-A football playoffs. The Pirates scored touchdowns on six of their first seven first-half possessions – one set up by a turnover – in taking a 49-0 halftime lead.
Watauga finishes its season 5-7. The Pioneers were 5-6 in games recognized by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. The Pioneers' loss to Elizabethton (Tenn.) did not count in Watauga's playoffs record.
“The are as good as advertised,” Pioneers coach Tom Wright said. “They are 30-3 in the regular season in the last three years and believe they've reached the final four the last three years. Coach (Blair) Hardin told me this team was as talented as he's had. It looked like it to me.”
Porter Ridge (10-1) rolled up 488 yards in total offense against a Watauga team that did not get a first down with an offensive play until 3:17 left in the first half.
“All in all, they work hard as a team,” Watauga receiver Cameron Baker said of Porter Ridge. “You could see that on the field. They work hard, and when they're not on the field, I'm assuming they're working hard in the weight room. They're just a great team with great coaching. It (stinks) that it has to end the way it did, but you can't win them all.”
The Pioneers were limited to 220 yards in total offense, but got 75 of those on their final drive of the game. Watauga reached the Porter Ridge 5-yard line on a 7-yard fourth down run by Collin Augustine, but the Pioneers were called for a personal foul penalty on the play, which put them back at the Pirates' 20-yard line.
Watauga ran four more plays, but the final snap, an Aaron Dobbins pass, was intercepted in the end zone. Penalties, particularly in the second half, hurt Watauga's chances of moving the ball. The Pioneers were flagged nine times for 85 yards overall.
“I was thinking we might score a time or two late in the ballgame,” Wright said. “I really thought we had an opportunity and penalties took us out of it every time.”
Dobbins, a freshman playing in his first playoff game, completed just 13-of-30 passes for 81 yards and four interceptions against a Porter Ridge defense that has shut out four opponents this season.
Porter Ridge, which shared the Southern Carolina Conference championship Sun Valley and Weddington, needed just 281 first-half yards to blast the Pioneers out of Pirates Stadium. Pirates quarterback Isaiah Hicklin completed 8-of-12 passes for 124 yards and touchdowns of 11, 31 and 12 yards, all to Luke Bayly. The first two gave Porter Ridge a 14-0 lead with 3:39 left in the first quarter.
Porter Ridge also managed 157 rushing yards and 17 first downs in the first half. Hicklin's 6-yard run capped a 32-yard drive that was set up by a Watauga fumble and gave the Pirates a 49-0 lead.
“I thought out execution was pretty sharp tonight,” Hardin said. “That's one thing we tried to work on this week – try to get better on the small things.”
Watauga's offense punted on its first two possessions, and tried a fake punt on its third possession. However, the short snap to Jimmie Accardi, on the fourth-and-one play, lost a yard and the Pirates took over. Jerrick Robbins scored on a 4-yard run four plays later to put the Pirates in front 21-0.
Watauga's offense netted 66 yards in the first half. Dobbins completed 6-of-12 passes for 14 yards, but Pirates cornerback Nick Widgeon stepped in front of a second-quarter Dobbins pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown.
Collin Augustine led the Pioneers in rushing with 115 yards on 26 carries. It was his first 100-yard game of the season. He gained 50 of those yards in the first half.
The Pioneers were held to four first downs in the first half and 12 in the game. Two of them were a result of a Porter Ridge penalty.
Porter Ridge's average starting point for its seven first-half drives was the Watauga 49-yard line.
“They have a kicker who put the ball in the end zone every time and we'd get the ball on the 20,” Wright said. “Of course we couldn't move the football very well against them. We punted away from their punt returner and they'd get the short field.”
Porter Ridge got 137 yards and touchdown runs of 48 and 34 yards from Chris Rathbone, all in the second half. He also recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown, giving him three for the game.
Porter Ridge 69, Watauga 0
Watauga 0 0 0 0 – 0
Porter Ridge 14 35 7 13 – 69
PRHS-Bayly 11 pass from Hicklin (Wogan kick)
PRHS-Bayly 31 pass from Hicklin (Wogan kick)
PRHS-Robbins 4 run (Wogan kick)
PRHS-Bayly 12 pass from Hicklin (Wogan kick)
PRHS-Widgeon 26 interception return (Wogan kick)
PRHS-Duffy 1 run (Wogan kick)
PRHS-Hicklin 6 run (Wogan kick)
PRHS-Rathbone 48 run (Wogan kick)
PRHS-Rathbone 34 run (Kick good)
PRHS-Rathbone 0 fumble recovery (Kick failed)
WHS Porter Ridge
First downs 12 24
Rushes-yards 33-139 38-364
Passing yards 81 124
Passes 13-30-4 8-12-0
Total plays-yards 63-220 50-488
Punts-avg 6-29.7 2-31.0
Penalties-yards 9-85 5-51
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-1
Third down conv. 2-of-13 3-of-5
Fourth down conv. 0-of-3 0-of-0
Time of poss. 28:21 19:39
Rushing: Augustine 26-115, Dobbins 4-17, Poulos 1-6, Shirley 1-1.
Passing: Dobbins 13-30-4 81.
Receiving: Mackey 4-15, Ebaugh 2-42, Isaacs 1-6, Williams 1-6.
Porter Ridge individuals
Rushing; Rathbone 6-137, Robbins 8-76, Johnson 7-69, Hicklin 6-58.
passing: Hicklin 8-12-0 124.
Receiving: Bayly 5-77, Harrell 2-20, Robins 1-27.