By Lance Hickey
North Buncombe – BlackHawks’ football continued to build on its great start, earning a convincing 31-6 victory over West Henderson in Hendersonville on Friday evening.
“Any time you can start conference off 1-0, it’s big,” said North Buncombe head coach Brandon Allen. “It’s been a while since we’ve been here, but to beat a team that is coached as well as West Henderson is coached (is great).”
North Buncombe received the opening possession of the game and wasted no time as Trent Cole returned the opening kick and quickly escaped through well-blocked defenders, returning the ball 82 yards for a touchdown. The BlackHawks took an early 7-0 lead with 15 seconds gone in the first quarter.
The Falcons then moved the ball down the field in their first series, but could not convert on a fourth down play, committing a turnover-on-downs. The BlackHawks looked for an answer on their next possession, but a Higgins fumble gave the ball back to West Henderson. The Falcons subsequently punted on their next possession.
Higgins responded on the BlackHawks’ next possession on a two-yard touchdown run with 8:29 remaining in the second quarter with North Buncombe taking a 14-0 lead, following the PAT. Each team punted on their next two drives. West Henderson finally began to move the ball down the field on their last drive before halftime, but three consecutive BlackHawk sacks forced the Falcons to punt the ball just before the half. North Buncombe headed into the break with the lead remaining at 14-0.
The second half proved to be more of the same as West Henderson turned the ball over on-downs on their first possession of the third quarter. North Buncombe took advantage on another touchdown run from Higgins, this time from 9 yards out. The BlackHawks took a 21-0 lead with 8:11 remaining in the quarter.
Following another Falcon punt, the BlackHawks moved the ball methodically down the field, again, capitalizing on a 15-yard touchdown run by Dawson Fender with 3:48 left in the third quarter. North Buncombe’s 28-0 shutout ended quickly on a 22-yard touchdown pass from West Henderson’s Jordan Geyer to TJ Fink. The Falcons PAT was blocked. North Buncombe led 28-6 at the end of the third period.
The BlackHawks added on to their lead on their next drive on a 34-yard field goal by Eli Lanning with nine minutes remaining in the game.
North Buncombe (3-1) would go on to beat West Henderson (2-2) 31-6. The win for the BlackHawks marked the third victory of the early season. Led by offensive stalwarts Higgins and Skylar Jutras, among others, and one of Western North Carolina’s stingiest defenses, look for North Buncombe to continue its hot start.
“They’re excited,” said Allen. “They’re just hungry. They’re playing hard.”