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South Stanly rallies late past South Davidson

With injuries and a tough non-conference schedule against higher classification teams, the first three weeks of the season have been difficult for the South Stanly Rebel Bulls.

Friday night, the Bulls finally faced a school with a similar size, traveling to Denton to face the South Davidson Wildcats.

Conference opponents since 1989, Friday’s game was the first non-conference football game between the two schools.

South Davidson came within two minutes of pulling off the upset, but the Bulls’ passing game paid off dividends in the fourth quarter, lifting South Stanly to a 21-16 win.

The win was the 14th in a row for South Stanly (1-3) over South Davidson (0-2) and the 27th win in a 29 overall games.

Starting his third game as a varsity quarterback, Trevor Tucker connected with Omaurion Eldridge for a dramatic come-from-behind win.

Facing fourth down and 15 at the Bulls’ 40-yard line, South Stanly took advantage of a tendency the Wildcats had in defending the Bulls when three wideouts went to one side.

“We saw that (South Davidson’s) safety was playing up and off the side all night. We knew the middle was wide open,” Bulls head coach Ryan Ochier said.

The play called for Eldridge, lined up in the backfield as a running back just to Tucker’s left, to run a hook pattern right in the middle of the field.

With the safeties playing deeper, Eldridge was wide open in the middle. He reached down and caught the pass below his knees, turned and sped straight up the field. He then made two Wildcats miss as he raced toward the home sidelines and outran the defense to the left corner of the end zone.

Tucker said, “I told Omaurion to just go up the middle and cut to the left,” Tucker said. “It was there, and he made good moves on it.”

Eldridge later said he and Tucker talked about running that play after several misses earlier in the game.

“I caught the ball, and I just saw a little hole. So I juked him and I scored,” Eldridge said.

The fourth quarter touchdown was not the only one the duo had Friday night. Trailing 8-0 in the second quarter, Eldridge got free on a fly pattern down the middle of the field. Tucker found him for an 86-yard touchdown pass.

Tucker finished with 232 yards on 9-of-20 passing with two touchdowns. He was picked off four times, twice in the end zone, but none of the picks directly led to points for South Davidson. Eldridge finished with 185 receiving yards on five catches.

South Davidson moved the ball on the ground mostly, rushing 44 times for 173 net yards and one touchdown. The other TD for the Wildcats came on a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Gavin Gathings.

Tucker said Friday’s win was a big one as the Bulls trailed until the third quarter, then found themselves down two points in the final minutes.

“It’s my senior year, and I didn’t want to go 0 for the season,” Tucker said.

“It was a good team win,” Eldridge said. “The offense and defense didn’t give up.”

Ochier said the win “gets the monkey off our back,” adding the team can “focus a little more on us and not our injuries.”

The last non-conference game for South Stanly is another tough matchup with a Friday home game versus 3A Central Davidson (3-0). The Spartans won Friday night versus West Davidson, 62-0.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

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