Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
YANCEYVILLE — A two-hour drive northwest to Bartlett Yancey was well worth the bus window time for the Beddingfield High football program on Friday night.
Spurred by a four-touchdown, 249-yard night from senior running back Jalil Hutcherson, the No. 9-seeded Bruins (9-3) ended a historic season for the No. 8 seed Buccaneers (9-3) in the first round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2-A playoffs with a convincing 41-14 rout.
“We had to make a statement to Clinton,” Hutcherson explained. “We had to make a statement. It’s going to be a physical game when we go to them.”
With the victory, the Bruins earned another road trip next Friday to the East Region No. 1-seeded Dark Horses. But before that was set, the team had to prove itself as an underdog.
Beddingfield arrived on the scene Friday night and was errantly and was referred to by the press box announcer as “Beddington” until well into the first quarter.
“I’m pretty sure they know our name now,” head coach Carl Smith said after the game, though he admitted he hadn’t noticed at the time.
It didn’t take long before the Bruins made their presence known.
Bartlett Yancey scored the first touchdown on a jet sweep that went 32 yards down the right sideline to give the Buccaneers the early advantage.
A miscommunication on defense gave Bartlett Yancey the lead, though it would only last for two minutes after a call for a two-point conversion was unsuccessful and left the team vulnerable.
On Beddingfield’s next drive, junior fullback Raekwon Batts got rolling and scored from nine yards out. The ensuing extra point from kicker Bryan Rico sailed through the uprights and the lead was the Bruins’ for good.
Though Beddingfield did not surrender the lead, the rest of the game did not go without drama. Beddingfield struggled to control the ball early and fumbled seven times in the first half, adding an interception just before halftime. Three fumbles were recovered by Bartlett Yancey.
“A lot of mistakes that we made were just nervous,” Smith said. “It was a big game, big atmosphere and when you get further along in the playoffs, you’ve got to be ready for it.”
Nine seconds into the second quarter, Hutcherson scored his first touchdown from 35 yards out to advance the lead to 14-6. Afterward, the ball control struggles continued, hampering the team’s momentum.
Then with 2:10 until the half, Hutcherson struck again. With a crowd of defenders looking to run him down, Hutcherson took a side step to the right and escaped through the middle of the line, running 62 yards untouched into the end zone.
“He’s a spark plug for us,” Smith said. “He’s a guy that’s just dangerous with the ball. He’s a jitterbug with a stick of dynamite and a couple times he was able to get out on the edge and get loose. That’s now what you want to let him do.”
Hutcherson said later that’s the moment when he knew his team had taken the game over for good. In the first half, the Buccaneers managed just 57 yards of offense.
After forcing Bartlett Yancey into a turnover on downs in the first drive of the third quarter inside the Beddingfield 20-yard line, the Bruins began driving all the way back down the field. When the Bruins reached the 20, Hutcherson ran it in again to advance the lead to 28-6.
Bartlett Yancey scored for the second time with 4:37 left in the third, as quarterback Brandon Nunnally connected with Davon Lipscomb for a 47-yard touchdown to draw the game to within two scores.
With 11:02 left in the fourth, Beddingfield pushed the lead out again when Hutcherson scored for the final time. Four plays into the Buccaneers next drive, they coughed up the ball. Sophomore Keydrin Parker picked up the fumble and rumbled back down the field 77 yards to put an exclamation point on the win.
“When I got it, I just felt that adrenaline rush and I took off,” Parks said. “It was exciting.”
The ground-and-pound rushing attack proved too much to handle with the Bruins rushing for 381 yards.
“We proved that we can execute,” Parks said. “Proved that we can do anything.”