It was a tale of two halfs for Bandys on Friday night in its first round playoff match-up against Ashe County.
After trailing 14-12 at halftime, the Trojans rallied behind four second half touchdowns by running back Dominique Young, and the defense forced four turnovers, leading Bandys to the 40-14 victory in Catawba.
The Trojans opened the game with a bang. After returning the opening kickoff to their own 44-yard line, quarterback David Barrow tossed a 56-yard pass to Hunter Lackey to make it a 6-0 game. The extra point was blocked.
The long pass play, coach Randy Lowman said, may have ended up being a curse.
"I'm not sure it helped or hurt us to hit that big pass at the beginning of the game," Lowman said. "I think we got in our head that it was going to be easier than it was going to be because the next 2-3 series, we didn't do anything offensively on the field. Our safeties weren't moving around and they got caught standing in their tracks."
Ashe County quarterback Sam Gammons made the Trojans' secondary pay for their lack of coverage. He completed his first eight passes in the contest for 104 yards.
The Huskies' defense first got the team on the scoreboard. After a snap flew over Bandys punter Peter Guiraud's head, lineman Michael Elliott hopped on the ball for an Ashe County touchdown. The extra point made the score 7-6 Huskies.
On the opposite side of the field from Gammons, Barrow continued his stellar play, completing a 31-yard scoring pass to DeAndre Mack on the last play of the first quarter to put his team up 12-7. A two-point conversion failed.
Despite Gammons' strong play, the Huskies couldn't manage to score an offensive touchdown until their final drive of the first half. That's when he connected with Tyler Stuart for a score to give his team the lead at halftime.
Gammons finished the half completing 15-of-20 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown pass.
It went all down hill from there for Ashe County.
After a message from the training staff, Lowman replaced Barrow with Anthony Toscano in the second half because his senior quarterback was experiencing dizziness.
"I didn't know David was going to be out," Lowman said. "I went to talk to the team, and the trainer told me 'Dave is still a little groggy. I don't think he should go.' He passed all of his concussion tests and answered everything right. We didn't think twice and put in Anthony."
The junior quarterback, who started for the Trojans in several games following a broken hand by Barrow in week one of the season, had a strong half, completing 4-of-5 passes for 62 yards.
Dominique Young, though, stole the show.
Despite being held to nine yards on seven carries in the first half, Young, a senior tailback, exploded for four scores, including three on the ground of 29, 10 and 14 yards.
All three of Young's rushing scores came off of turnovers by the Huskies, including an interception by Gammon and fumbles by Jeremy Caffey and Kolten Pilar.
Gammons threw two interceptions and was held to just 55 passing yards in the second half.
"We got our safeties moving around instead of standing on the hashes watching them complete passes," Lowman said. "I should have made them buy a ticket to watch."
Capping off a great night, Young added a 30-yard touchdown score on a pass from Toscano on fourth down and eight.
"He's just a professional," Lowman said of Toscano. "Nothing shakes or rattles him. He just goes in and executes. I liked having him out there."
Young rushed 19 times for 93 yards and also caught two passes for 32 yards. Both efforts were part of Bandys out-gaining Ashe County in offensive yardage in the second half, 174-40.
"We knew we were a better team," Young said. "We made a lot of mistakes and weren't playing as hard as we could. We just came out, made a few big plays and it sparked us the rest of the game. The offensive line really made some adjustments in the second half."
The Trojans advance to next Friday's second round, when they will take on Smoky Mountain, who defeated fellow CVAC member Bunker Hill.
"It's going to be cold up there," Young said. "I think we can beat them though. I have confidence in our team."
Lowman said his team will have to re-evaluate itself and take a new approach next week.
"Our guys in the past have had to step it up when they get to this point in the season," he said. "I hope this bunch will do it, too."