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Originally published: 2013-09-21 00:27:12
Last modified: 2013-09-21 00:28:26

Watauga blasts Wilkes Central 42-0

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

For the second straight game, Watauga's offense has been nearly unstoppable.

Wilkes Central had few answers for the Pioneers in Watauga's 42-0 victory at Jack Groce Stadium Friday night. Watauga scored touchdowns on five of its six possessions, including a 99-yard, eight-play drive that ended in the second of three Zach Williams touchdown runs and a 35-0 Watauga lead.

"I think we're a better football team," Pioneers coach Ryan Habich said. "They've had some injuries and some players hurt. We did a good job in the first half moving the football. We didn't do much. We wanted to keep it basic and throw a little bit."

Watauga is 4-0 for the first time since 2006 when the Pioneers open the season with eight straight victories. The Pioneers' offense has scored 99 points in their last two games, and beat Wilkes Central for the 12th straight time. They open the Northwestern Conference season on Sept. 27 at home against St. Stephens on homecoming weekend.

"That was the goal going in," Habich said of being 4-0. "The first thing you do is you want to win the mountain. You want to be king of the mountain with Avery and Ashe. The next thing you want to do is you want to do in the nonconference games is go 4-0 and you want to see some things. The good thing about our nonconference is we had an overtime win at Ashe, so that gave our kids some experience because we're going to have close games like that."

The other three Watauga victories were blowouts, including the Pioneers' win Friday. Watauga quarterback Aaron Dobbins played a big role in the win Friday by leading the Pioneers in rushing and passing. The sophomore quarterback gained 99 yards rushing on just six carries, just as Williams gained 99 yards on 15 rushes.

The totals are a complete opposite of the Pioneers' 13-7 overtime win over Ashe when Watauga rushed for just 31 yards on 23 carries. Dobbins broke a 33-yard gain on the second play of the game, which set up his 35-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Poulos.

That gave the Pioneers a 7-0 lead.

"We had running backs who hit the hole and the offensive line was coming off (the ball)," Habich said. "Actually, with the triple option, if you get it going, it opens a lot of things up. We're not blocking two people on every play. We're reading them."

Dobbins also hurt the Wilkes Central defense with his right arm. He completed 8-of-14 passes for 175 yards and touchdown strikes to Poulos and 18 yards to Cam Baker. Both were in the first quarter.

Dobbins has tossed eight touchdowns and no interceptions in the 10 quarters he's played. He missed the second half in the Pioneers' season-opening game against Alexander Central before leaving with a concussion, but returned to play the entire game against Avery. He did not play against Ashe in the second game, but returned to throw three touchdowns in the Pioneers' 57-36 win over Avery on Sept. 13.

Dobbins got the Pioneers out of trouble after the Watauga defense made a goal-line stand in the third quarter. Wilkes Central drove the ball down to the Watauga 1-yard line, but the Pioneers stopped Alex Dyer inside the one.

Dobbins' 29-yard run on the first play of Watauga's ensuing drive gave the Pioneers a first down at their own 30. Seven plays later, which included a 33-yard Dobbins completion to Poulos on a fourth-and-eight from the Wilkes Central 36, Williams scored from 2-yards out.

Williams also scored touchdown runs from five yards in the second quarter and a 1-yard run with 3:43 left on a 70-yard, seven-play drive engineered by backup quarterback Austin Northern.

Watauga's offense rolled up 426 yards in total offense, which is the second straight game the Pioneers have gained over 400 yards in total offense. The Pioneers gained 251 yards on the ground and was never thrown for a loss.

The goal line stand was not the first time Watauga's defense made a big play. Wilkes Central was driving late in the first half for a possible score, but Watauga safety Michael Ebaugh put the brakes on the march by intercepting a pass and racing 72 yards for a pick-six that put the Pioneers in front 28-0 with 26 seconds left in the first half.

"We talked on the timeout before that play about the safety reading that wing and making that play," Habich said. "Michael Ebaugh read his keys, made the play and finished the play."

Ebaugh, who started the season at receiver and wingback, but was moved to safety, scored the Pioneers' second defensive touchdown this season. The Eagles did not pass again the rest of the game, and completed just 1-of-4 passes for eight yards.

Victor Williams led the Eagles' ground game with 128 yards on the ground in 24 carries. Dyer added 65 yards on 20 carries.

Wilkes Central, which has an overall record of 29-8 record and a Mountain Valley Conference championship in the past three seasons, slipped to 0-4. The Eagles have been outscored 127-33 and has been shut out twice in 2013.

The Eagles host West Wilkes in a MVC game on Sept. 27.