North Buncombe – The rivalry game versus Madison was all it was cracked up to be for North Buncombe, as the BlackHawks earned a dominating 46-0 victory over the visiting Patriots. securing their second win of the early season and bringing home the “jug” for the first time since 2015.
North Buncombe received the opening possession of the game but would finish the series with a three-and-out. Madison would not respond, turning the ball over on a Lee Ballard interception, a harbinger of things to come. The BlackHawks would punt on the next series, followed by a third down sack by Madison’s Colby Arnett. The Patriots turned the ball over on-downs, on their own 33-yard-line, on their next possession, going for a first down on fourth and two.
North Buncombe responded on their next possession on a 12-yard quarterback keeper by Caden Higgins, handing the BlackHawks an early 7-0 lead with 5:14 left in the first quarter, following the extra point attempt. North Buncombe’s defense stood up again on Madison’s next series on an interception by linebacker Dawson Fender. Higgins took advantage on the offensive end soon after, connecting on a 43-yard touchdown pass to Josh Ramirez with 3:53 left in the first quarter.
Following a Madison punt, the BlackHawks continued its push for the “jug” driving the ball down the field, capitalizing on a 2-yard touchdown run by Skyler Jutras. The Hawks were just getting started as they took a 21-0 lead with only 5 seconds gone in the second quarter.
North Buncombe’s next answer came after another Patriot punt as Trenton Ramsey converted on a 32-yard field goal with eight minutes remaining in the first half. Ballard collected his second interception of the evening on Madison’s next possession, though the BlackHawks would not respond on their next series. The score remained 24-0 as the teams headed into the halftime break.
The second half began with several unsuccessful series by both teams as no team would score in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter proved to be a different story for North Buncombe as the BlackHawks forced the Patriots into a safety with 7:58 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Hawks continued its surge on a Jutras 18-yard scamper into the end zone with six minutes to play.
Ballard answered again with his third interception of the night on Madison’s next possession returning the ball to the Patriots’ 4-yard line. Another Higgins quarterback sneak gave North Buncombe a 39-0 lead, followed by a missed PAT.
Ballard wasn’t finished with his stellar performance, collecting his fourth interception of the evening on the Patriots next possession. Higgins, again, took advantage of the defenses forced turnover, scoring on a crafty 40-yard touchdown run, handing North Buncombe a 46-0 lead with under three minutes remaining.
It proved to be a career day for Ballard as he took over on the defensive side of the ball with his personal record of four interceptions. Higgins had a stellar performance as well, finishing with 81 passing yards, 138 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown. Jutras had a notable game in his own right as well, with two rushing touchdowns.
North Buncombe (2-0) would go on to beat Madison (0-2) 46-0, capturing the infamous “jug” in return. The victory could prove to be a turning point for North Buncombe football. The Hawks’ last win against Madison was on August 28, 2015 in a convincing 62-27 victory by Madison. The sky seems to be the limit for the Coach Allen-led BlackHawks as they prove themselves to be a program on the rise, and have a two-victory record going for a third this week as they take on the Smoky Mountain Mustangs Friday night.