North Buncombe is the proud owner of a new kind of streak — a winning streak.
Everything was a little more crisp and energetic at practice in the past week, Black Hawks coach Curtis Cagle said. A community and program that had been beaten down by 20 consecutive losses was excited about football again.
Now, multiply all of that by two.
Caleb Gwaltney rushed for a game-high 117 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown with 32 seconds to go in Friday’s 14-7 road win at Mitchell.
It marks the first back-to-back wins for North Buncombe (2-3) in football since 2008. The Black Hawks have not won more than two games since that season five years ago.
“The kids are all really happy. I think they’re still trying to process it,” Cagle said.
“Mitchell played hard. My hat is off to them. We made some mistakes to hurt ourselves. But when crunch time came, they found a way to win. (Gwaltney) was huge. He carried the football and ran extremely well and played really good defense, too.”
On a daily basis, Cagle said it has been much easier to get maximum effort out of his players since their 21-19 win over West Henderson on Sept. 13 that snapped the losing streak.
“(Winning) makes a big difference. Oh yes,” Cagle said of the Black Hawks, who went 0-11 in 2012.
North Buncombe opens Mountain Athletic Conference play next week at home against Enka (0-5).
Myers’ big return lifts Mountaineers
Bryce Myers and the Tuscola running game had been bottled-up all night.
The junior still found a way to put his speed to good use.
Myers returned a kickoff 84 yards for the deciding touchdown with 4 minutes, 24 seconds to go in Friday’s 35-34 win over Swain County in Bryson City.
“The ball (on the kickoff) hit me right in the chest, and I fumbled it around a little bit,” said Myers, who was limited to 10 yards on eight carries on offense.
“I just got around the edge on the right side, and my blockers gave me a wide-open lane.”
Woody Cornwell passed for 130 yards and one touchdown. The recipient of that 24-yard throw, Adam Chambers, also completed a 8-yard touchdown pass to Cornwell in the second quarter.
Houston McCracken scored a pair of touchdowns for the Mountaineers (3-1) on two short runs (1 and 2 yards).
“We’re pretty jacked up about this win,” Myers said. “Swain County is a tough team, and they really knew how to shut the run down. But Woody had an awesome game, and we all stuck together.”
Spencer McCoy had 125 rushing yards and three touchdowns for the Maroon Devils (3-2), who hadn’t lost at home since 2010.
Owen wins Ford’s return to Marion
Win or lose, Friday figured to be emotional for Owen football coach Kenny Ford and his offensive coordinator, Anthony Lee.
It felt much nicer to reminisce after a tough road win.
Zee Johnston piled up 229 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries and fellow junior Jager Gardner added 119 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Warhorses past McDowell, 50-33.
Sam Drummond passed for 131 yards with a touchdown throw to Chris McHone (37 yards).
Ford began his coaching career as an assistant at McDowell from 1980-85, and Lee was also an assistant at Western North Carolina’s largest high school.
Friday was the first game between Owen (3-1) and McDowell (2-3) since 1996.
“Both teams played real well, and the score isn’t anywhere close to what kind of football game it was,” Ford said.
“It was two fighters throwing punches at each other all night. It was emotional after the game was over. I know hard those kids at McDowell are working and how hard those coaches are working.”
Greenies win in front of big Fayssoux crowd
No count was taken Friday at Fayssoux Field. But Christ School coach Mark Moroz guessed that roughly 3,000 football fans were on campus for a game against Hendersonville.
Ellis Pace and the Greenies gave one of their biggest home crowds in school history something to see.
Pace ran for 256 yards and two touchdowns as Christ School fought past the visiting Bearcats, 20-14. Stephen Bridges connected on a pair of 45-yard field goals for the Greenies (3-1), who only attempted three passes.
The Bearcats (2-3) are the two-time defending Western Highlands Conference champions. Starting quarterback Cole Cleary has held out of the game with concussion-like symptoms.
“This is a huge win for our program and for our school,” Moroz said. “It was just an incredible game, to be honest. We just kept pounding the football, and Ellis Pace had a great night. That was our game plan. We wanted to eat up the clock and let him run behind our offensive line.”
Christ School brought in temporary bleachers to try and accommodate Friday’s crowd. The Greenies are No. 4 in this week’s NCISAA Division II rankings.