Bearcats’ aerial assault dooms Wolverines in regular-season finale

Published 10:00 pm Monday, November 7, 2016

Polk County’s defense swarms Hendersonville quarterback Alex Williford during Friday’s game.

Polk County’s defense swarms Hendersonville quarterback Alex Williford during Friday’s game.

HENDERSONVILLE – Polk County felt they had to play a near-perfect game Friday to defeat Hendersonville.

Instead, the Bearcats nearly did.

Hendersonville scored on its first six possessions, building a 38-6 lead early in the third period and handing the Wolverines a 52-13 loss in the regular-season finale for both teams at Dietz Field.

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It marked just the 12th time in Polk County school history that an opponent topped the 50-point mark, and the Bearcats (8-3, 5-1) did so with an efficient aerial attack that gave the Wolverines trouble all night. In the first half alone, Hendersonville quarterback Alex Williford finished 10-for-14 for 208 yards and three touchdowns. He ended the game with 338 yards passing on 15-of-22 attempts and six touchdown passes.

Hendersonville clinched a share of the Western Highlands Conference title with the win.

“They’ve got a bunch of good receivers and it showed tonight,” said Polk County head coach Jamie Thompson.

Polk County (5-6, 3-2), though, had chances to keep the game close in the first half. Reminiscent of their early-season struggles in the red zone, the Wolverines twice pushed inside the 20-yard line in the first half without scoring points. Polk also nearly had an interception deep in Hendersonville territory.

Trailing 7-0, the Wolverines put together a drive that lasted almost eight minutes, a Dillon Knighton 25-yard run on a reverse and a 15-yard scamper by Dillon Overholt helping give Polk a first-and-goal at the 3. But the Wolverines failed to move any closer, and an incomplete pass on fourth down gave Hendersonville the ball at the 3.

The Bearcats needed just three plays to cover the 97 yards, Williford tossing an 80-yard strike to Leon Cooks for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

Polk County answered with a seven-play, 79-yard drive, capped by Jaymes Wingo’s 5-yard touchdown run, before Hendersonville’s Drew Eudy drilled a 29-yard field goal to make it 17-6 with 5:13 left in the second period. The Wolverines responded with another long drive, a Wingo 38-yard run taking Polk back into the red zone.

But the drive stalled there, a fourth-and-7 pass from the 14 falling incomplete.

Hendersonville quickly moved downfield and scored with 15 seconds left as Cooks grabbed a deflected pass in the end zone, giving the Bearcats a 24-6 lead at the half.

“We missed some breaks early,” Thompson said. “We needed to play close to perfect and we didn’t. The effort was there. That’s a competitive group.”

Any hopes Polk County had of a second-half rally were quickly snuffed. Williford tossed a 50-yard touchdown pass to Tykel Landrum on the first play of the third period, then the Bearcats scored again seconds later following a Wolverine fumble, Demetrius Smith catching a 2-yard scoring pass to make it 38-6 with 11:13 left in the third period. Including the score at the end of the first half, Hendersonville scored three touchdowns in 62 seconds.

Overholt tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Wingo at the end of the third period for Polk County’s final score.

The Wolverines will now wait for the announcement of the state 2A playoff field on Nov. 12. Polk County is projected by most observers to earn a playoff berth and could travel to Surry Central or North Rowan in the first round on Nov. 18.

“We’ve just got to forget about this and drive on,” Thompson said. “We’ll regroup and keep fighting to get better.”

– article submitted by