After a first-round bye, Eastern Randolph began its push for a 1-A state title on Friday night with a 28-12 victory over No. 17 Mountain Heritage in Ramseur.
The top-ranked Wildcats will be in Ramseur again this Friday to take on No. 8 Robbinsville in Round 3.
Eastern Randolph is 10-1 after dispatching the Cougars, but it wasn’t easy.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, only to see the Cougars score a pair of TDs in the second quarter. However, Mountain Heritage failed on the first extra point try and then on a two-point conversion after the second score, leaving the Wildcats with a 14-12 halftime lead.
Lucas Smith scored a second touchdown in the third quarter to stretch the lead to 21-12, and Ervodd Cassidy crossed the goal line with three minutes left in the game to seal it.
Robbinsville, 9-3, earned the trip to Ramseur with a 39-12 romp over Cherokee. The main threat to watch for from Robbins is running back Cutler Adams, who has rushed for just under 2,000 yards this season.
One other area team, Providence Grove, also played in last week’s second round, but came up short against annual powerhouse Reidsville. Top-ranked in 2-A this year, Reidsville has won more NCHSAA Football State Championships than any other school in the state with 19, including 4 in the past 6 years.
Not that Providence Grove rolled over for the Rams. The Patriots used a Zander Cheek TD and a field goal to go up 10-7 with four minutes left before halftime. The Rams countered with the first of many touchdown passes with just a minute left in the half to take a 14-10 edge.
Reidsville sandwiched a pair of scoring passes around a PGHS interception, scoring on a two-point conversion after the second score to take command at 29-10.
PG responded with Karson Bowman’s 1-yard touchdown grab and Bowman scored on a two-point try to cut it to 29-18 with 5 minutes left in the third quarter. But another TD pass before the quarter was out pushed the lead to 36-18 and it was 51-18 before PG could get back on the scoreboard with a Chase Whitaker touchdown catch with two minutes to go in the game.
Providence Grove, which won in the first round to snap the longest string of appearances without a win, winning for the first time in their 11th playoff start, finished the season 8-4.