Wilfong, dominant defense lead Red Devils past Trojans

Newton-Conover running back Allen Wilfong (22) prepares to collide with Bandys defender Chris Culliver during the third quarter of Friday’s South Fork 2A football game in Catawba. (Photo by Cody Dalton/ CSD Photography)Trojans’ running back, Isaiah Gilchrist (21) tries to run up the gut of the hounding Red Devil defense on Randy Lowman field for ‘Homecoming’ on Friday, October 4. (Photo by Michelle Thompson)Newton-Conover’s Sakarri Morrison (34) forces Bandys quarterback Jackson Spicer (24) to fumble the football during the first quarter of Friday’s prep football game at Garry Butler Memorial Stadium. (Photo by Cody Dalton/ CSD Photography)
Cody Dalton
O-N-E Contributor

CATAWBA, N.C. — Behind a powerful running attack from Allen Wilfong and a dominating defensive performance, the Newton-Conover football team picked up a 36-13 conference rivalry victory on Friday night against host Bandys at Garry Butler Memorial Stadium.

Red Devil head coach Steven Pack was surprised by the defensive performance from his team, which gave up just nine first downs and 211 rushing yards to the Trojans.

“I told them in the huddle that they actually shocked me a little bit,” Pack said. “I feel like we’ve been getting better on defense. I thought we were the more physical team tonight.”

Newton-Conover (4-2, 2-0) and Bandys (3-3, 0-2) played to a near deadlock in the first half of Friday’s contest — most of it ridden by penalties from both teams.

The Red Devils surged ahead in the game behind a pair of Addison Hayes field goals of 33 and 23 yards, and the NCHS defense added a safety when Bandys freshman Chris Culliver was tackled in the end zone by Red Devil junior Brandon Johnson during a second-quarter run deep in Trojan territory.

Rallying late before halftime, the Trojans used a Parker Dehart 43-yard pass to Jackson Spicer on third down to set up a one-yard touchdown run from Dehart. That score made it an 8-6 game at halftime following an unsuccessful two-point conversion run by Bandys.

Coming out of the break, the Red Devils sensed urgency, and Wilfong led the way.

After Newton-Conover got a stop on defense to open the second half, Wilfong broke free on a 17-yard touchdown run at the seven-minute mark of the third quarter.

“In the second half, I caught my second wind,” Wilfong said. “I just figured out if I put my foot in the ground and go straight, I’m going to do what I do.”

The Trojans looked to keep pace with their long-time rivals, nearly scoring on the ensuing kickoff.

However, Red Devil kicker Addison Hayes stopped a potential special teams score for the second-straight week, spearing Bandys returnman Quenten Maddox, who had broken free up the middle of the field.

“Honestly, I was just making sure he didn’t get into our end zone,” Hayes said. “I just had to make the tackle and go for the legs.”

Pack was impressed by the senior kicker’s touchdown-saving play.

“It was definitely a great lick by the kicker,” Pack said. “He came in like a blur, came out of nowhere and made a big hit. He’ll probably be our ‘Devil Stick’ winner of the week. That means he gets to carry our sledgehammer around.”

On the very next play, Newton-Conover’s Sakarri Morrison swooped in front of a pitch by the Trojans and snatched the ball away, running it back 32 yards for another score for the visiting team.

“I thought in the second half that we hit (Bandys) in the mouth a little bit,” Pack said. “They started backing away just a little bit. Our defense got a safety and a scoop and score. That’s big time. When we can score on defense that really helps us out. People say we aren’t very good on defense. We’re not where we want to be, but we’ve gotten better.”

Following yet another defensive stop, Newton-Conover continued its rampant rushing attack.

Allan Shade scored on a one-yard run before the end of the third quarter to make it a 28-6 Red Devil lead, and Wilfong added his second rushing touchdown midway through the fourth quarter — carrying a pair of Trojan defenders with him into the end zone on a 15-yard score.

“I didn’t really have any clue where I was. All I knew was that the end zone was that way, and I just had to push forward to get there,” Wilfong said of his second touchdown run. “If you aren’t hitting my legs, I’m not falling down. I was so motivated just to keep doing whatever it was. I wanted to keep them down and not let anything happen.”

Wilfong, who also played every snap on defense, finished Friday’s game with 23 carries for 155 yards to go with his two scores — part of a 223-yard running performance by Newton-Conover.

“He’s an animal. He’s a stud,” Pack said of Wilfong. “He’s one of the best running backs around. He hasn’t had the games that we are used to him having. We’ve gotten behind some so we’ve had to throw it a little bit more than we would like to. He hasn’t had the yards that we would like for him to have, but he’s a great running back and a good kid.”

The Trojans added one final score – a seven-yard run by Dehart — before the final buzzer sounded.

Bandys will try to bounce back from two-straight rivalry losses on Friday night when the Trojans travel to face conference foe Lincolnton (2-4, 0-2).

Meanwhile, the Red Devils will try to continue their unbeaten streak in conference play on Friday when they host West Lincoln (5-1, 1-1) for their annual homecoming game at Gurley Stadium.

“West Lincoln is good,” Pack said. “I’ve seen them on tape a little bit. They are a good football team. Darren Ponder — the head coach there — is one of my best friends. We were at Burns together forever. We still talk on the phone all the time. They are really good. I think we’re pretty good. We’ve got to fix some things. We can’t have 200 yards in penalties like we did tonight, but I think we’re a good football team. I’m hoping it’s a really good, exciting game next week.”