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PINETOPS — After a disappointing loss to Beddingfield in the regular-season finale last week, SouthWest Edgecombe “went back to work,” said head coach Jonathan Cobb, and the result was a grinding 34-13 defeat of visiting Hertford County in the first round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2-A football playoffs Friday night.
The East Region No. 6 seed Cougars (10-2), who could have won the Eastern Plains Conference championship and picked up a probable second-round home game with a win over Beddingfield, will travel to Southwest Onslow (9-3), the East No. 3 seed that blasted Goldsboro 35-6 in Friday’s first round.
SouthWest Edgecombe got off to a dubious start against the No. 11 Bears (6-6) from the Northeastern Coastal Conference. Hertford’s first pass of the game was seemingly picked off by the Cougars but Cobb said the officials ruled that it hit the ground first. SouthWest held Hertford County on fourth down but a facemask penalty against the Cougars breathed life into the Bears’ drive.
Then a backwards pass by Hertford was ruled a forward pass and the Bears eventually punched it into the end zone to take a 7-0 lead.
SouthWest Edgecombe High picked up its 10th win of the season Friday night and, in the process, reached the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2-A playoffs with a 34-13 victory over Hertford County.
SouthWest, tri-champions of the Eastern Plains Conference, moved to 10-2 as the No. 6 seed out of 16 East Region qualifiers. Hertford County, the No. 11 seed, had its year ended at 6-6.
The Cougars will now be pressed into road duty for the second round as SouthWest visits the Stallions of Southwest Onslow next week.
The Stallions (9-3), seeded No. 3, excused No. 14 Goldsboro 35-6 in another first-round game Friday.
“I really thought that first drive was interesting,” Cobb said.
However, the lead was short-lived as senior halfback Alex Foster scored the first of his three touchdowns and senior Dillon Garbrandt nailed the extra-point kick to tie the score.
Junior Dashon Bandy then rambled 77 yards and Foster added another scoring run to send the Cougars into halftime with a 20-13 lead.
Bandy finished with 151 yards on nine carries and Foster ran for 150 on 16 carries, reigniting the trend that was interrupted last week.
We had a good night offensively, which is nice after a week like last week. I felt like our defense played pretty well also,” Cobb said.
The Cougars held the Bears scoreless in the second half. Jordan Clayton led SWE with eight tackles while Jahkele Goins intercepted two Hertford passes. Bryan Wooten recovered a fumble, caused by Zykei Callahan, and both players, along with Jelan Smith, recorded a sack.
T.J. Harris hauled in a 10-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Jayden Lewis in the third quarter and Foster found the end zone a third time in the fourth quarter.
The Cougars knew they missed their chance last week to stay at home a second week in the playoffs.
“We didn’t really feel like we performed well last week,” Cobb said. “The reason we’ve been able to win big games this year was not making mistakes and moving the ball when we had to and stopping the other team when we had to.
“We went back to work this week.”