Wilkes Central delivered when it mattered the most in its 32-19 win over East Wilkes on Friday night in Moravian Falls in the regular season finale for both teams.
With the win, the Eagles concluded the regular season at 5-2 and will await to see if their record is good enough to earn them an at-large bid into the 2A state playoffs. The brackets are expected to be unveiled later today (Saturday). The Cardinals ended their 2020-21 campaign at 2-5 with the loss.
After a 25-yard touchdown run from JoRaye Morrison — his fourth score of the night —put Central up by 13 with 4:23 to play, East Wilkes look to be in good shape to make it a one-possession game after quarterback Briggs Gentry found Titus Miller for a 13-yard gain to set up first-and-10 from the Eagle 31.
Central senior linebacker Ahmad Carlton then sacked Gentry for a 12-yard loss. After back-to-back incompletions from Gentry set up fourth-and-22 with 2:08 to play, the Cardinals benefitted from a pass interference penalty from the Eagles but still were short of the first down.
Going for it on fourth-and-6 from the Central 29, senior lineman Brian Hartley sacked Gentry for an 11-yard loss, resulting in a turnover on downs with 2:08 to play.
The two teams traded scores in the first quarter. Gentry found Ethan Cass in stride on a 50-yard touchdown pass on the Cardinals' first offensive possession while Morrison responded with a 50-yard touchdown of his own on the ground. The senior tacked on the two-point conversion for the 8-6 advantage (East missed its extra point).
East had a chance to take the lead after Miller intercepted a C.J. McGill pass attempt, but struggled to produce any offense. On third-and-20 from the Cardinal 7-yard line, Morrison brought down Gentry in the end zone for a safety and a 10-6 advantage.
Touchdown runs of 5 and 35 yards from Morrison pushed the advantage to 24-13 after three quarters before Gentry and Cass hooked up again — this time on a 3-yard touchdown pass to make it a one possession game (24-19) with 9:38 to play.
Morrison accounted for all but two of the Eagles’ points Friday night. Anthony Graham scored on a two-point conversion after Morrison’s final touchdown in the fourth quarter.
In addition to the two touchdown strikes, Gentry added a 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
A complete game report will be published in Wednesday's edition of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot.