Update: Pioneers beat Avery 57-36
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
In the Pioneers' 57-36 victory over Avery, Watauga had two runners rush for over 100 yards. T.J. Poulos rushed for 129 yards on 14 carries, while Zach Williams added 102 yards on 22 carries.
The Pioneers (3-0) finished with 266 yards rushing after having gained just 88 yards total in the first two games. It was the breakthrough Watauga worked for after spending the past two weeks going back to the basics of blocking and tackling in practice.
"Our kids made some good plays," Pioneers coach Ryan Habich said. "I thought we blocked better. I thought we hit the hole better. Our kids made some plays tonight and they were ready."
Watauga's 57 points are the most they had scored since the 2007 state 4-A playoffs when the Pioneers beat Central Cabarrus 52-36. Watauga also beat Alexander Central 50-22 in the 2007 regular season and West Caldwell 49-28 in 1999.
It helped the Pioneers to have key players return to the lineup. Watauga quarterback Aaron Dobbins, playing in his first game since a concussion knocked him out of the second quarter in the season opener against Alexander Central, added 220 passing yards on just seven completions.
Watauga finished with 486 yards in total offense.
"We passed when we needed to, but most of the game we could pound it in there," Dobbins said. "Our running game definitely did a lot better this week than it has been. We've got to keep moving forward."
Despite all of the points and yards, Watauga's victory wasn't truly secure until late in the fourth quarter when T.J. Poulos scored on a 12-yard run with 2:03 left in the game. The run capped a 49-yard, nine-play drive that started when the Pioneers recovered an Avery onside kick.
Poulos' touchdown was Watauga's eighth of the game. The first was scored 11 seconds into the game when Cam Baker returned opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown.
"It's the first time I've ever taken a kickoff back for a touchdown," Baker said. "Before the game, I was trying to get focused and it just so happened that they gave me the perfect hole. When I hit it, the front line did a great job blocking and just opened it up."
Baker added a touchdown in the second quarter when he caught a Dobbins pass for a 59-yard score. Baker was originally supposed to run a post pattern, but the Avery safety followed Watauga's fake handoff and Dobbins found Baker at the 30-yard line.
Baker outjumped the cornerback covering him and raced to the end zone.
"That actually wasn't the route I was supposed to run," Baker said. "I was supposed to run a post, but the DB bit on the run fake, so I just ran a (vertical route) and Aaron saw me and threw it up there."
Dobbins completed 7-of-11 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns. For the second straight game, he did not throw an interception. His 19-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Isaacs gave the Pioneers a 14-0 lead.
"It's really the first time all year we've been semi-healthy on offense," Habich said. "The first game, we didn't have (Williams) and we put our tight end (Isaacs) at running back. The second game, we had to put a new quarterback in, so it's the first game where we had consistency at the running back position and at quarterback. Everything works out better when you have consistency on offense and when you're executing."
Poulos caught four passes for 121 yards and a 59-yard touchdown when he pulled away from two Vikings on his way to the end zone.
"Coach is always saying to get extra yards after the catch," Poulos said. "I turned inside and I saw open field. I got two key blocks and turned on the jets and got to the end zone."
Avery (2-2) countered with quarterback Tre Jackson, who rushed for 94 yards on 12 carries and scored touchdown runs of 5, 1, 41 and 3 yards. Daniel Childres led the Vikings, who rushed for 373 yards as a team, with 134 yards rushing and a 6-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that pulled Avery to 43-23.
Watauga returns home this Friday to host Wilkes Central.
Watauga 57, Avery 36
Watauga 21 15 14 7 -- 57
Avery 7 7 14 8 -- 36
WHS--Baker 96 kickoff return (Shirley kick)
WHS--Isaacs 19 pass from Dobbins (Shirley kick)
AHS--Jackson 5 run (Jackson kick)
WHS--Williams 2 run (Shirley kick)
AHS--Jackson 1 run (Jackson kick)
WHS--Williams 1 run (Shirley kick)
WHS--Baker 59 pass from Dobbins (Greer run)
AHS--Jackson 41 run (Kick failed)
WHS--Poulos 59 pass from Dobbins (Shirley kick)
AHS--Childres 6 run (Childres run)
WHS--Poulos 5 run (Shirley kick)
AHS--Jackson 3 run (Phillips run)
WHS--Poulos 12 run (Shirley kick)
First downs 23 22
By rushing 15 18
By passing 7 1
By penalty 1 3
Rushes-yards 43-266 56-373
Avg. rush 6.2 6.2
Yards gained 275 374
Yards lost 9 1
Passing yards 220 38
Passes 7-11-0 3-12-1
Avg att. 20.0 3.2
Avg. comp 31.4 12.7
Sacks-yards lost 1-5 0-0
Total plays-yards 54-486 68-411
Punts-avg. 0-0 2-47.5
Penalties-yards 5-41 4-53
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Time of possession 22:04 25:56
Third down conv. 4-6 6-12
Fourth down conv. 1-2 1-3
Rushing: Watauga--Poulos 14-129, Williams 22-102, Dobbins 5-23, Ford 2-12; Avery--Childres 23-134, Jackson 12-94, Santiago 6-67, Phillips 11-66, Stansberry 2-8, Carpenter 2-4.
Passing: Watauga--Dobbins 7-11-0 220; Avery--Jackson 3-12-1 38.
Receiving: Watauga--Poulos 4-121, Baker 2-80, Isaacs 1-19; Avery--Phillips 1-18, Lowery 1-15, Buchanan 1-5.