SPARTA — It took nearly three quarters for the dormant Elkin offense to finally wake up in Friday’s rain-soaked 1A playoff opener in Sparta.
But once the Elks woke up, they nearly pulled off a 20-point, second-half comeback over Mountain Valley Conference rival Alleghany.
A batted pass in the endzone on fourth down proved to be the difference as the Trojans knocked off Elkin for the second time in three weeks, 28-7, t0 advance to the second round.
Playing their first home playoff game in over 15 years, Alleghany jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first half, relying heavily on its strong rushing attack. Chandler Caudill found paydirt on 26- and four-yard touchdown runs to give the Trojans the early advantage.
The Trojans tacked on another score after opening the second half with a grinding, seven-minute drive that ended on a four-yard touchdown pass from Erik Lyons to Khalil Lawson, pushing the lead out to 20-0.
With 4:34 left in the third quarter, the Elks finally answered as Josh Strickland marched the team down the field.
The junior hit Jamiles Hayes on a 4th-and-6 pass to pick up the first down. On the next play, Hayes darted off left-tackle for the score, cutting the deficit to 20-7.
The Elkin defense came up huge in the fourth, forcing an Alleghany punt before Cory Anderson brought down Lyons on a strip-sack deep in Trojan territory with 5:00 remaining.
On 4th-and-7, Strickland picked a low snap off the field and hit Will Altemueller on a 14-yard strike to set the Elks up at the 5.
After a flag backed Elkin up to the 10, two incomplete passes and a sack set up a do-or-die, 4th-and-goal from the 13. Strickland dropped back and fired a pass that was knocked out of Tyrek Hayes’ hands in the endzone.
The Trojans added a final insurance score with under a minute to play to seal the 28-7 victory.
Elkin’s season ends at 6-6, while Alleghany stays alive in the 1A bracket, advancing to play Murphy next Friday.
In Boonville, Starmount rode a 28-point second half to a 42-7 victory over Mitchell in the 1AA playoff opener at home.
The second-seeded Rams fell behind 7-0 to No. 7 Mitchell in the first quarter before reeling off 42-unanswered points to cruise to the win.
After Starmount only took a 14-7 lead into the locker room at halftime, senior Will Simpson jump-started a ferocious explosion by returning the second-half kickoff 80 yards for the score.
From there, the Rams padded their lead and coasted to the commanding 42-7 victory.
Starmount (9-3) will meet third-seeded Cherryville (6-6) in the second round next Friday at home.
In Bryson City, top-seeded Swain County made quick work of No. 8 East Wilkes in Friday’s 1AA opener.
The Maroon Devils scored 21 points in the each of the first two quarters to take a comfortable 42-12 advantage into the break.
Swain led 56-12 after three quarters before the Cardinals scored 19 points in the fourth to make the final score more respectable, 56-31.
In Maiden, Forbush’s turnaround season came to an abrupt end in the first round of the 2AA playoffs Friday.
Maiden held a 21-0 lead at the halftime horn and cruised to the 35-0 shutout victory to advance.
The Falcons finished the season with a 6-6 overall record — their most wins since 2006.
For full recaps of playoff action, check out Monday’s edition of the Tribune.
Other area playoff scores:
North Wilkes 31, Brevard 28
Bunker Hill 20, Ashe County 17
North Rowan 42, Surry Central 0
Carver 53, Lake Norman Charter 14
Mount Airy 28, East Montgomery 7
East Surry 37, Walkertown 10
North Stanly 27, Bishop McGuinness 10
West Stokes 36, East Davidson 13
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.