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October 12, 2013ALBEMARLE - A great crowd was on hand to see what was billed as the game of the year in the Yadkin Valley 1A conference. West Montgomery, ranked #4 in the most recent NCPreps.com Bakers' Dozen poll, traveled to take on traditional power Albemarle in an effort to see which team would gain the upper hand in conference play. It was a turnover and penalty filled game, though, but by the end of the night West Montgomery left the field with a 55-14 victory to go to 4-0 in conference play.
West Montgomery opted to pooch the opening kickoff and recovered the ball after Albemarle was unable to catch the ball cleanly. After moving the ball into the red zone, Warrior senior quarterback Caleb Drake passed to Jarrett Little for a one yard touchdown on a jump pass after drawing the defense in on a run fake.
West Montgomery then executed the exact same pooch kick on the ensuing kickoff with the same result. "We saw a hole in their coverage on film and we decided to kick it over there," West Montgomery head coach Nick Eddins said after the game. "Our kids ran down the field hard and recovered special teams is a third of the game if you can win that you win the game." After a dropped pass, Caleb Drake ran down to the Bulldogs 10. The Warriors were unable to get in the end zone, though, and settled for a field goal by Walker Harrison to take a ten point lead.
A third attempt at the short kick backfired and an illegal touching penalty gave Albemarle the ball at the West Montgomery 30. But, the Bulldogs were unable to take advantage and turned the ball over on downs at the 28. A big catch and run by Rykeem Robinson put West Montgomery into Albemarle territory for the third time of the night. A penalty ended the Warrior drive though and the two teams proceeded to trade possessions for the rest of the first quarter.
The second quarter began with West Montgomery driving, but more penalties and another dropped pass ended the West Montgomery possession. Later in the quarter, a sixty yard touchdown punt return by West Montgomery was negated by a penalty, sending the Warriors all the way back to the 25 yard line. Two more penalties pinned the Warriors even deeper in Bulldog territory. Just when the Bulldogs thought they would be able to take back momentum with the help of some good field position after a punt near midfield, the Warriors' A.J. Collins intercepted the Albemarle quarterback and returned it fifty yards for the pick-six.
Albemarle, stunned by its 17-0 deficit, tried to respond and a mix of runs and a big pass by Bryan Blanton to Timmie White got the Bulldogs inside the 30, but an overthrown pass on fourth down gave the ball back to West Montgomery. A fumble on the ensuing possession gave the ball right back to Albemarle, and the Bulldogs were able to take advantage of the turnover with a forty-two yard touchdown run by KJ McKenny to cut the deficit to ten.
West Montgomery went back to work on their next drive, aided by a few Albemarle penalties. last week's 1A player of the week, Warriors running back Suave Pegues, fighting through four Albemarle defenders, found the end zone on an eight yard run, extending the West Montgomery lead to 24-7.
The ensuing kickoff for West Montgomery worked much like the first two kickoffs of the game, with West Montgomery recovering the ball amid confused Albemarle special teams players. While the Warriors were able to get the ball inside the ten, a touchdown eluded them and they settled for a twenty-six yard Walker Harrison field goal to push the halftime lead to 27-7.
West Montgomery received the second half kickoff, but was unable to move the ball, punting it to the Bulldogs. Albemarle immediately looked to get back on the board and when quarterback Blanton found a streaking White down the right sideline for an eighty yard score, it seemed for the time that Albemarle was right back in the game. Albemarle's Kani Sellers and Travis Bennett showed off a lot of speed for the Bulldog defense, making a few stops that kept the game from getting too far out of hand in the third quarter.
After the two teams traded possessions for the next eight minutes, an opportunity opened up for West Montgomery when an Albemarle runner fumbled the ball deep in their own territory. The Warriors took advantage of the turnover when Drake rushed it in from sixteen yards out to give West Montgomery a 34-14 lead going into the final quarter
The fourth quarter seemed to continue the Caleb Drake show for West Montgomery. The senior quarterback found the end zone twice during the final quarter, giving the Warriors a 48-14 lead. "He's a great player, great kid," Coach Eddins commented of his quarterback after the game. "He's been doing that all year for us. We schemed some things that we thought would get him open and it worked he's just a great player who can throw the ball, run the ball, do everything." Drake's fourth score of the night came after West Montgomery recovered yet another kickoff from Albemarle.
Just when it looked like Albemarle was going to get something going, a fumble on fourth down was returned eighty yards by Collins to put West Montgomery up by the final margin of 55-14. This was Collins' second defensive touchdown of the night. "A.J. Collins just makes play after play...he's just around the ball he's a playmaker," Coach Eddins said after the game.
Coach Eddins was proud of his team's effort in the game and thought this could be a turning point for a program that hasn't won a conference title in twenty-one years. "It was huge program win. I thought we won all facets of the game," Eddins said about what this game meant for his team. "We marched the ball up and down the field all night long Albemarle's been the top dog forever. It took a lot for us to do what we did tonight."
Albemarle will take on North Moore next week while West Montgomery will host North Stanly in a matchup of the last two undefeated Yadkin Valley 1A conference teams.
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