One more for the road: Titans close out regular season against familiar foe

McDowell Titans running back J.C. Olivo looks for yardage during last week's 56-6 win over West Caldwell. Olivo, the Titans' leading ground gainer, is listed as questionable for tonight's regular-season finale at Freedom (7:30 kickoff). Josh Davis/blueridgesportsphotography.com

Note: "Tonight" in the story refers to Friday.

Looking for positives concerning the McDowell Titan football program? How about these: They’ve doubled their win total from a year ago, and they’re still fighting for a playoff spot here in Week 12.

 The Titans (2-4 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference, 4-6 overall) travel to Freedom tonight (7:30 kickoff) in the regular-season finale against the Patriots (5-1, 8-2). A win tonight would secure the only State 4A Playoff berth available to the conference.

Regardless of what happens in Morganton, McDowell would still capture the postseason spot if the league’s other 4A program, South Caldwell (2-4, 3-7), loses at Alexander Central (3-2, 7-2) tonight.

But the Titans won’t be thinking about that other game.

“We’ve got to worry about what we do,” said McDowell head coach Andy Morgan, whose club is coming off a 56-6 win at West Caldwell last Thursday. “Freedom has an excellent team, but we have to take care of what we do and execute. We have a good game plan on both sides of the ball, and if we can execute, it should be a good ballgame.”

The Titans have executed pretty well of late, especially on the offensive side. McDowell is averaging a healthy 25.4 points and a well-balanced 335 yards of offense, with 152 per game on the ground and 183 through the air. With the exception of a 229-yard outing in a loss to Alexander Central, the Titans have easily surpassed the 300-yard mark in four of their last five games.

One of the biggest reasons for McDowell’s success has been the play of senior quarterback Adam Randolph, who set a new school record for single-season passing yards in last week’s win over West Caldwell. Randolph has thrown for 1,832 yards on 124-of-181 passing with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He’s completing 68.5 percent of his passes, which Morgan said is the second-best mark in the state.

“Adam has done a great job, and I hope he can pass for 2,000 yards,” said Morgan. “A lot has to be said about the offensive line and receivers. I think we’ve played fairly well the last half of the season. We’ve made some mistakes in the red zone, but the offensive line has improved a lot.”

In addition to Randolph’s record-setting season, a couple of McDowell receivers have been quietly etching their names in the Titan history book as well. Senior Dakota Effler is now No. 2 in career receiving yards, while Andruw Randolph has moved into the No. 3 spot. Effler has 86 catches for 1,116 yards and eight touchdowns in his three-year varsity career. Randolph, a four-year varsity player, has 83 receptions for 1,105 yards and 13 TDs. Only Ethan McMahan (100 rec., 1,468 yards, 12TDs) is ahead of the duo. Randolph needs only one touchdown to tie the school’s all-time leader, Adrian Pearson.

The Titans’ passing game may end up being especially important tonight. Senior tailback J.C. Olivo (176 rushes, 889 yards, 9TDs), the team’s leading rusher, is listed as questionable after re-aggravating a high ankle sprain last week. Olivo left the West Caldwell game in the first half and did not return.

Sophomore Dequan Boyce filled in superbly for Olivo, rushing for 132 yards and three scores on 18 carries.

“J.C. has been taped up and going about half-speed,” said Morgan. “I don’t know what his availability is, but if he can go, he will. He’s tough. It’s been bothering him all year, since back in the summer, but he’s done a good job of taping it up and taking care of it.

“I was proud of Dequan. He has played mostly defense because we have two-platooned all year and J.C. hasn’t played defense. He has learned a lot (about playing tailback), but the thing I’m most proud of is he sticks it up in there and doesn’t try to bounce everything outside, and he’s getting those tough yards.”

That’s good, since yards of any kind will be tough against a solid Patriots defense.

“They’re very good offensively and defensively, but I think their defense is underrated,” said Morgan. “I think they’re one of the top two defenses in the conference. They’re physical up front and well-coached, their ends don’t get out of position, their linebackers are good, and they’re good in the secondary and everybody back there is athletic.”

Freedom has been just as good offensively, averaging more than 44 points per contest. The Pats have scored at least 43 points in all but three outings: last week’s 35-16 loss to Watauga in the de facto conference championship game; a 31-21 loss to powerful Shelby in the season opener; and a 38-6 win over Alexander Central Oct. 5. The Patriots have scored 54 or more four times.

The Titans will counter with players like senior defensive lineman Andrew Davis, who has led the team in tackles all season and has a team-high 74 stops. Linebackers Brycen Seymore (59 tackles, 2INT) and Johan Ayala (58, 4TFL), defensive back Drew Green (55) and defensive tackle Bryce Allison (55) all have more than 50 tackles to their credit. Allison has been a consistent playmaker up front, and leads the team with eight tackles for loss and six quarterback sacks to go with two fumble recoveries and a caused fumble.

The playoffs are set to begin Friday, Nov. 16. The postseason was moved back a week due to weather concerns when Hurricane Florence hit the eastern part of the state. If McDowell qualifies for the playoffs, it would be an at-large selection in the 4A (small 4A) bracket.

Freedom holds a 24-15 edge in the all-time series with the Titans. The Patriots have beaten McDowell three times in a row, included a 41-14 game in last year’s season finale.

 

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference football 2018

 

                                              Conf.          Overall      

Watauga (3A)                         6-0              10-0            

Freedom (3A)                        5-1              8-2    

Alexander Central (3A)           3-2              7-2                       

Hickory (3A)                          3-2              5-4    

McDowell (4A)                      2-4              4-6

Saint Stephens (3A)                2-4              3-7             

South Caldwell (4A)               2-4              3-7             

West Caldwell (3A)                0-6              0-10            

 

Thursday, Oct. 25

McDowell 56, West Caldwell 6

South Caldwell 44, St. Stephens 28

Friday, Oct. 26

Hickory at Alexander Central (ppd.)

Watauga 35, Freedom 16

 

Friday, Nov. 2

McDowell at Freedom

South Caldwell at Alexander Central

St. Stephens at Hickory

West Caldwell at Watauga

 

Friday, Nov. 9

Hickory at Alexander Central

End regular season

 

Wednesday, Aug. 15

Shelby 31, Freedom 21

 

Friday, Aug. 17

McDowell 22, R-S Central 7

Alexander Central 40, Burns 7

Statesville 30, Hickory 15

Bandys 42, St. Stephens 28

Watauga 36, T.C. Roberson 12

East Burke 42, West Caldwell 0

 

Friday, Aug. 24

McDowell 52, Avery 27

Alexander Central 50, Wilkes Central 7

Freedom 57, Draughn 0

St. Stephens 44, Bunker Hill 6

Kings Mtn. 42, South Caldwell 6

Watauga 43, Ashe 7

Hibriten 58, West Caldwell 0

 

Friday, Aug. 31

Patton 35, McDowell 13

Alexander Central 54, North Iredell 3

Freedom at East Burke (ppd.)

Hickory 35, Newton-Conover 6

East Rutherford 70, South Caldwell 44

Watauga 58, Avery 7

West Iredell 48, West Caldwell 6

 

Monday, Sept. 3

Freedom 55, East Burke 13

 

Friday, Sept. 7

Mitchell 42, McDowell 14

Alexander Central 56, North Lincoln 24

Freedom 49, Patton 6

Huss 35, Hickory 7

Maiden 21, St. Stephens 13

Hibriten 56, South Caldwell 12

Watauga 43, Wilkes Central 14

Ashe 47, West Caldwell 0

 

Wednesday, Sept. 12

Hickory 28, Bandys 27

Foard 38, St. Stephens 22

 

Thursday, Sept. 13

South Caldwell 50, R-S Central 32

 

Friday Sept. 21

Hickory 31, McDowell 0

Alexander Central 69, West Caldwell 0

Freedom 49, St. Stephens 0

Watauga 46, South Caldwell 12

 

Friday, Sept. 28

St. Stephens 40, McDowell 36

Watauga 35, Alexander Central 0

Freedom 43, Hickory 22

South Caldwell 62, West Caldwell 13

 

Friday, Oct. 5

McDowell 48, South Caldwell 28

Freedom 38, Alexander Central 6

Watauga 43, Hickory 23

St. Stephens 55, West Caldwell 7

 

Friday, Oct. 12

Alexander Central 49, McDowell 0

Freedom 58, South Caldwell 12

Hickory 68, West Caldwell 21

Watauga 49, St. Stephens 7

 

Friday, Oct. 19

Watauga 50, McDowell 13

Alexander Central 28, St. Stephens 13

Freedom 54, West Caldwell 0

Hickory 55, South Caldwell 54

 

McDowell Titan football stats 2018

 

                           Opponents            McDowell

First downs         172                       165

Rushes-yds.        369-2380               322-1522

Passing               78-144-5-7             124-186-11-17

Passing yds.        896                       1832

Total yds.           3276                      3354

Fumbles/lost       17/9                      19/11

Penalties-yds.      84-734                   73-650

 

Opponents                   73   83   69   90 – 315

McDowell           70   63   27   94 – 254

 

Individual stats

Offense

 

Rushing

 

Player                           Att.              Yards           Avg.            TD

J.C. Olivo                     176              889              5.0               9

Adam Randolph           90                371              4.1               4

Dequan Boyce              28                186              6.6               3

Andruw Randolph        07                78                11.1             1

Cedric Biddle               09                76                8.4               2

Andrew Davis               01                06                6.0               0

Richard Handy             01                05                5.0               0

Steven Webb                01                02                2.0               0

Dakota Effler                01                02                2.0               0

Brycen Seymore           02                02                1.0               0

Seth Baird                    01                m7               00                0

Team                            06                m82             00                0

Totals                           322              1522            4.7               19

 

Passing

 

Player                 Comp.         Att.          Yds.      TD     INT

Ad. Randolph     124              181          1832      17      10

Richard Handy    00                04            000        0        1

An. Randolph     00                01            000        0        0

Totals                 124              186          1832      17      11

 

Receiving

 

Player                           Rec.   Yds.  TD

An. Randolph               38      589    7

Dakota Effler                32      501    6

Olivo                            23      332    2

Handy                          17      236    2

Steven Webb                12      164    0

Boyce                          02      010    0

Totals                           124    1832  17     

 

Kickoff/punt returns

 

Player                 Ret.             Yds.            Avg.            TD

Olivo                  18                483              26.8             0

An. Randolph     03                42                14.0             0

Webb                 03                31                10.3             0

Boyce                 02                26                13.0             0       

Luke Bright         03                12                4.0               0

Biddle                 01                11                11.0             0

Effler                  01                10                10.0             0

Tice Edwards      01                10                10.0             0

Andrew Green     02                09                4.5               0

Seymore             01                06                6.0               0

Bryce Allison      01                01                1.0               0

 

 

Kicking

 

Player                 XPA  XPM  FGM FGA  Blk.    Long

Seth Baird           31      27      01      03      01      25

 

Scoring

 

Player                           TD     Rush  Rec.   Ret.   FG     XP     Pts.

Olivo                            11      09      02      00      00      00      66

An. Randolph               08      01      07      00      00      00      48

Effler                            06      00      06      00      00      00      36

Baird                            00      00      00      00      03      27      30

Ad. Randolph               04      04      00      00      00      02      26

Boyce                          03      03      00      00      00      00      18

Biddle                          02      02      00      00      00      00      12

Handy                          02      00      02      00      00      00      12

Webb                           00      00      00      00      00      02      02

Seymore                       00      00      00      00      00      02      02

Davis                            00      00      00      00      00      02      02

Totals                           36      19      17      00      03      35      254

 

Punting

 

Player                 Punts           Avg.

Baird                  26                30.8

 

Defense

 

Player                           Solo            Assist          Tackles

Andrew Davis               52                22                74

Seymore                       42                17                59

Johan Ayala                  30                28                58

Drew Green                  42                13                55

Bryce Allison                36                19                55

Biddle                          29                17                46

An. Randolph               29                12                41

Tice Edwards               24                17                41

Harley Allison               21                18                39

Boyce                          22                16                38

Nick Ivy                       18                18                36

Braedon Allison            13                15                28

Walker Hughes             14                08                22

Nathaniel McEntire        10                10                20

Cameron Griffith           06                08                14

 

Tackles for loss: Bry. Allison 8, Ivy 5, Ayala 4, Edwards 3, Davis, Biddle, Seymore 2, Hughes, Jacob Pearson 1

Sacks: Bryce Allison 6, Edwards 2.5, McEntire 2, Davis, Ayala, Ivy 1

Fumble recoveries: Bryce Allison, An. Randolph, Ivy 2, Biddle, Seymore, Edwards, Ayala, Braedon Allison 1

Caused fumbles: Effler, Davis, Ayala, Bry. Allison, Hughes, Grayson Blackwelder, Seymore, Green, Griffith 1

Interceptions: Boyce, Seymore 2, Davis 1

 

 

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