BOONE — The Watauga middle school football team struggled scoring points against East Alexander in the first half of their game Sept. 11.
The Wolverines nearly scored enough points to overcome a 12-point deficit in the second half. After being shut out in the first half, Watauga rallied with one touchdown in the second half and had the ball late in the fourth quarter.
Watauga was driving toward the East Alexander end zone, but the Wolverines ran out of time before they could score and fell 18-14 to the Falcons at Jack Groce Stadium. The game was originally scheduled to play in East Alexander, but temperatures in Alexander County were above 90 degrees at kickoff, so arrangements were made to move the game to Boone.
East Alexander took a 12-0 lead in the first half by scoring two touchdowns. Watauga (0-3) had just one first down in the first quarter, and turned the ball over twice on interceptions.
Watauga started the second half with an entirely different look. Wolverines quarterback Jackson Pryor found tight end Morgan Henry with a pass down the middle of the East Alexander defense in the third quarter. Henry made a juggling catch and finished the 35-yard completion in the end zone for a touchdown.
Watauga added a two-point conversion when Cooper Critcher caught Pryor’s pass in the end zone, leaving the Wolverines behind 12-8.
“We played much better in the second half,” Watauga coach Michael Neff said. “Of all three of our games, we were able to put some points in the board today and that felt good. East Alexander is a tough team and we’re tough and our boys — it took them a while to realize that and I feel really good about these next few games.”
East Alexander running back Jordan Dobson dealt Watauga a tough blow by reeling off a 58-yard run down to the Wolverines’ 2-yard line in the fourth quarter. Falcons quarterback Tanner Moore scored a 2-yard touchdown run on the next play, which gave East Alexander an 18-8 lead.
Watauga took over at its own 46-yard line on its ensuing drive with 3:08 left in the game. Pryor ran for 14 yards and then again for another three, giving the Wolverines a second-and-7 at the East Alexander 37-yard line.
On Watauga’s next play, Pryor found receiver Ben Gosky running down the left sideline with a 37-yard touchdown pass. Watauga trailed 18-14, but all East Alexander had to do was run out the final 2:27 of the game and leave Boone with the win.
Watauga’s defense held the Falcons on a four-and-out and the Wolverines took over at the East Alexander 45-yard line with 1:13 left. But Watauga could only come up with one first down, and the Wolverines’ final play, a reverse to Gosky, was stopped at the East Alexander 23-yard line.
East Alexander built its first half lead with a 10-yard touchdown run by Levi Brown that capped a 58-yard drive on seven plays. The Falcons added to their lead in the second quarter with a 3-yard touchdown run by Wesley McAlpin. His score finished a 55-yard, eight-play drive highlighted by a 34-yard pass on a third-and-26 from Moore to Brown.
Watauga plays again at home against Hudson on Sept. 18.