ELKIN - On the heels of a 1-9 season a year ago, Elkin came into 2012 as an underdog.
The Buckin’ Elks consistently embraced and thrived in their newfound role, rolling to a 1A Mountain Valley Conference championship and securing the No. 1 seed in the Midwest pod of the state playoffs.
But playing at home as the favorite in the second round of the playoffs, Elkin was unable to pull from its early-season persona against a determined Rosman squad Friday night.
Playing as the underdog, the Tigers kept the Elks out of the endzone and scored the final 20 points of the game to pull off the upset at Grissom Stadium, 27-3, ending Elkin’s season.
“They lined up and whooped our butts,” head coach Scott Wood said, “It was a physical football game and they ran right up the middle on us and we couldn’t stop it. They were the better football team tonight.
“But I’m proud of the season our kids had; it was a good turnaround. The seniors laid a foundation for us to build on in the future. And we’re proud of them for that,” he added.
Rosman set the tone early on with a strong running game and a stout defense, keeping the Elks out of sync offensively.
The Tigers struck first on the second play of the second quarter to take a 7-0 lead they would never relinquish.
On their best drive of the night, the Elks responded following the score. Jamiles Hayes and Josh Strickland picked up three-straight first downs to move Elkin into the redzone.
But a fumble on a key third-down play forced the Elks to kick a field goal. Coley McCulloch drilled a 22-yarder to put Elkin on the board with six minutes to play in the half at 7-3.
The Tigers answered immediately with a three-play, 70-yard drive to push the lead to double-digits at 14-3.
The Elks moved the ball to midfield before the half but were forced to punt and head to the locker room down 11.
Needing a score to get back into the game, Elkin moved the ball into Rosman territory on its first possession of the half on back-to-back first-down runs by Seth Creed. But after hauling in a pass from Strickland, Daniel Brinegar was striped at the 16-yard line as the Tigers pounced on the loose ball.
The Elk defense stood tall and forced a three-and-out. But Elkin was unable to move the ball on the ensuing possession, giving the ball back to Rosman.
The Tigers responded with another scoring drive to push the lead out to 21-3 late in the third quarter
In the final quarter, Rosman capitalized on a Strickland interception near midfield, punching it in from 12 yards out for the back-breaking score, extending the lead to 27-3.
On their final drive, Elkin stalled at the 50 when Hayes was stopped short on a 4th-and-10 play, turning the ball over to the Tigers.
Rosman picked up a game-winning first down to seal the upset win, 27-3.
Elkin’s season ends at 7-5, but an emotional Wood believes his team over-achieved this year.
“I’m proud of their effort and what they’ve accomplished,” he explained. “Right now, it doesn’t feel too good. But I don’t think a lot of people put us where we are right now at the beginning of the season. I think they’ve over-achieved this year.
“We’re just thankful for what these seniors have done and the effort they’ve given,” Wood continued. “We just have to get stronger and keep working, and I think we found that out tonight.”
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.