Red Devils top Vikings, force tie atop CVAC standings
South Iredell's 19-game win steak in the Catawba Valley 2A is over after Newton-Conover knocked off the Vikings 31-21 in Troutman on Friday.
The game's result ties the conference standings three ways between Newton-Conover (7-3, 5-1), South Iredell (8-2, 5-1) and Maiden (7-3, 5-1).
"Unbelievable" said N-C coach Brint Russell of his team's victory. "I told our guys all week that we could win this football game. South Iredell has a good team. We played extremely hard. I am proud of our kids. We played well."
The Red Devils jumped on the Vikings early by forcing them to go three and out and then taking advantage of a short punt by driving 46 yards in seven plays.
Marquis Pope capped N-C's first drive with a five-yard touchdown run that put the Red Devils up 7-0.
"I knew it was going to be a tough game" Pope said. "We just kept fighting, and we pulled out the win."
After South Iredell stalled on offense again, N-C quarterback Kevin Cline's two-yard scoring run on his team's next possession made it 14-0 Newton-Conover with 11:51 to go in the half.
The Vikings cut their deficit to 14-7 by halftime with a six-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Davin King to wideout Michael Fisher.
South Iredell trailed 14-7 at the break — only the second time it had trailed in a game at the half.
"Everyone was down on us this past week" said N-C junior Nick Baker. "We thought we were the better team. We played to our potential."
Out of the halftime break, King and Fisher connected again — this time from 67 yards out — to tie the contest at 14-14.
The game quickly turned into a track meet after that.
Cline hooked up with Tyrell Fleming on a 64-yard pass and catch touchdown to give N-C the lead back temporarily, but King fired his third and final scoring pass to Scott Miller from 17 yards out to knot the contest at 21-21.
The Red Devils once again answered King's effort, driving 68 yards. On a pass that was nearly intercepted, Cline found Sam Avis on a touchdown pass from 12 yards away to give Newton-Conover a 28-21 edge — a lead it did not surrender.
South Iredell had two opportunities to score late, but could not net any points.
The Vikings' second of those possessions resulted in King being intercepted by N-C defensive lineman Cody Sifford, who raced down to the 10-yard line before being taken down.
Sifford's big play led to a game-clinching 24-yard field goal by Chandler Johnson with 1:07 left.
"I thought I was going to score" said Sifford of his interception. "I got towards the end zone and just cramped up."
Cline, who surpassed the 3,000-yard mark in all purpose yards for his career in the game, said Friday's victory was a complete group effort.
"Without my teammates, none of this would be possible," he said.
Newton-Conover has one more challenge left in its way — West Caldwell (0-10, 0-6) — before it finishes up the regular season next Friday on the road.
Nick Baker said the Red Devils' goal in the season finale is simple.
"We have to win, just win and then focus on the playoffs," he said.
Russell, channeling his inner Bing Crosby, said Friday's win was good fortune for his squad.
"Pennies from heaven," he said.