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 end zone 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 end zone.
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.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.