SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Two of Western North Carolina’s best football players proved they belonged Saturday.
Asheville High’s Pete Leota and Reynolds’ Rico Dowdle helped North Carolina win the Shrine Bowl for the first time in four years, 54-39, at Wofford College.
Dowdle only carried the ball three times, but had 19 yards and a 15-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. The Rockets senior, who was just added to the annual all-star exhibition last week, later scored on a 13-yard touchdown reception.
The previous record for combined points in the Shrine Bowl was 80 points. And Dowdle knows a thing or two about records.
He set a WNC mark for touchdown responsibility (63) this fall for MAC 3-A champion Reynolds (11-2).
“It made me feel great, coming out here and helping the team win for the first time in (four) years and scoring touchdowns. It’s very exciting,” Dowdle said.
“I’ve got to thank the (offensive line). They got their jobs done on that (touchdown run),” Dowdle said.
“Everything opened up, and everything worked out how we designed it to, and I just got in there. We came out firing early. We were executing on all cylinders and just playing football the way we were supposed to. It was just unbelievable to see how many points we put up in the first half.”
Dowdle landed a scholarship offer from South Carolina earlier this week. He said Saturday that he will likely commit by the end of January to either the Gamecocks, Tennessee, Wake Forest or N.C. State.
Leota is a lineman who committed to South Carolina in mid-September. As of Saturday, he is the only senior from WNC who has decided where he will play his college football.
Asheville assistant coach Charlie Metcalf was a member of this year’s North Carolina Shrine Bowl staff.
The Shrine Bowl is played annually in Spartanburg. South Carolina leads the all-time series, 44-31-1.
Note: Greenville News reporter Bob Castello contributed to this report.