ELKIN - Looking for a statement win to add to their season resume, the Buckin’ Elks let an ideal opportunity slip through their fingers Friday night.
Squaring off with second-place Wilkes Central, Elkin allowed two fourth-quarter touchdowns to fall 21-7 on Senior Night at Grissom Stadium.
“We had a good effort on defense; I’m proud of the way they played. We played defense well against two good backs and a good football team,” Elkin head coach Scott Wood explained. “But their defensive front was a lot more than we could handle tonight. Offensively, we just couldn’t get in sync in any fashion. You have to compliment them; that’s probably the best defensive line we’ve seen all year.”
After a scoreless opening quarter, Central broke through midway through the second on a 24-yard run to take a 7-0 lead.
The Elks responded when Sam Lane jumped over a defender to haul in a 45-yard bomb from Josh Strickland to tie things up at 7-all three minutes later.
Elkin forced a punt late in the half and moved to the 18-yard line after a personal foul penalty. But Coley McCulloch’s field goal attempt sailed just wide right as the Elks and Eagles went into the locker rooms knotted up a 7-7.
In a defensive third quarter, neither team was able to move the ball consistently. Elkin caught a break late in the third when Cory Anderson hopped on a loose ball near midfield.
The Elks went three-and-out as the Eagles drove down the field. A four-yard touchdown run gave Central a 14-7 lead with just over six minutes remaining.
After the next Elkin drive stalled, Kody King received the snap on a fake punt but was dragged down before the first-down line, giving the Eagles the ball at the 42.
On the next play, Central iced the game with a 42-yard run down the left sideline.
A Strickland interception on fourth-and-nine at their own 26 sealed the 21-7 win for the Eagles.
Elkin’s defense turned in one of its finest performances of the year, limiting a high-powered Central offense for more than three quarters. The Eagles came into the meeting scoring more than 31 points per game.
“Right now, I’m proud our defensive effort,” Wood said. “We’ve gotten so much better on defense as the year has progressed. We have to continue to build on this and get better for the playoffs.
“Playing like this shows a lot for our defense and our defensive intensity. But we’re going to have to get in sync on offense. We just have to get better,” he added.
With the loss, Elkin dropped to 5-4 on the year and 4-3 in the Mountain Valley Conference. All three conference losses have come to 2A schools, while the Elks have swept the 1A side of the conference.
The loss drops the Elks fall into a first-place tie with West Wilkes in the race for the top 1A spot. Elkin holds the tie-breaker with a 35-21 victory in the head-to-head matchup.
Elkin heads to East Bend Friday night in the season finale to take on bottom-dweller Forbush. A win over the Falcons will secure the top 1A seed out of the MVAC for the Buckin’ Elks.
“We have Forbush next week. Coach [Chris] Johnson always does a good job with them so we have to get our mind set on Forbush and try and get better as we go along,” Wood added.
West battles Alleghany in Sparta Friday night.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.