DOBSON — The Golden Eagles advanced to the second round of the state playoffs with a 28-21 win, but it wasn’t easy.
Surry Central overcame a sluggish start to be competitive, then hit a long pass for the clinching touchdown with just 1.3 seconds on the scoreboard.
In a tie game, Polk County began methodically marching down the field, picking up four first downs into Eagle territory.
Then the Eagles stiffened and forced a turnover on downs in the final minute. That set up a game-winning 71-yard TD pass from Chandler Johnson to Jed Kidd.
Polk County won the time of possession and yardage battle. The visitors had 21 first downs (11 first half and 10 second); Central had just two first downs at the half and finished with seven.
That didn’t matter, as the Eagles scored twice in the final 3:17 to advance.
Polk County, 5-6 coming in, didn’t look like the lower seed in the first quarter. The Wolverines took the opening kickoff and marched down the field, picking up three first downs while advancing to the 2-yard line. A holding penalty and a stuff moved Polk back to the 20. Instead of trying a long field goal, Polk went for it and failed.
The Eagles had a three-and-out, however, and Polk took over again at midfield after a punt.
On a third-and-7 play, quarterback Dillon Overholt rolled out right and threw back to the left to fullback Jaymes Wingo for a first down. A couple of plays later, Polk went back to that look, with Overholt finding Dillon Knighton for a 24-yard touchdown pass with no defender anywhere near the receiver.
With a two-point conversion, it was 8-0 with two minutes left in the first quarter.
Central put together a few good plays, picking up its only two first downs of the half, before a false start disrupted the flow and led to a punt.
A good bounce for Kidd, handling the punting, put the ball back at the 20. But Polk soon found success with the fullback Wingo bashing up the middle time and again, getting yardage of 6, 6, 3, 5 and 16 yards. Then on an option play, the QB pitched to running back Elijah Sutton for a 6-yard TD run. That made it 15-0 after an extra point.
The Eagles had another three-and-out, but Kidd crushed a punt all the way back near the 10-yard line, and the Wolverines took over at their 19 after a return.
Overholt tried a read-option play, but a defender burst through and caused a fumble, which was recovered at the 8.
Chandler Johnson used a play-action pass to the right to find Noah Wilmoth for a touchdown with 3:59 left in the half.
Polk had a turnover on downs, but Central gave it back with a tipped pass for an interception.
Overholt had a couple of throws toward the end zone as the half ended, but Central broke up the plays to keep it 15-7 at the break.
The Eagles got the ball first in the third quarter, but suffered a fumble by Martin Palacios at midfield. Palacios made up for that by diving on two other fumbles, plus a nifty onside kick that was recovered by Wilmoth in the second quarter.
After Palacios’ fumble, however, Polk drove all the way into the Central red zone before turning it over on downs for the second time.
When the Eagles got the ball back, Eric Ramirez picked up 24 yards on one carry, then four more before Johnson hit Palacios with a pass over the middle that the speedster turned into a 53-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion failed, leaving Polk ahead 15-13 with 7:24 left in the third.
After Wingo puked in the middle of the field in the second quarter, the Wolverines brought in another fullback for many plays in the second half. However, Overholt did most of the damage himself on designed runs.
The QB led Polk down the field before Hobie Arnder, Kidd and Dylan Mitchell all had pass breakups to force a punt.
After Central punted the ball back, Overholt and Sutton led the way to the 1-yard line before the QB dove over the top for a score to make it 21-13 in favor of the Wolverines with 6:13 left in the game.
The Central coaches yelled to the players that they needed a stop to keep it a one-score game. The Eagles put on a great rush and blocked the extra point.
Back on offense, Kidd picked up some yardage to midfield, then Ramirez had a good run. Palacios had an off-balance catch at the 11 for a first down.
Then on fourth-and-13, Johnson dropped a ball into the right corner for Riley Dockery for a touchdown. Kidd caught a two-point pass to tie the score at 21-all with 3:17 left.
Polk looked like it might drive right down for the winning score, getting two first downs, then pass interference for another. Another first down put the ball at the 28-yard line.
Overholt found a receiver in the end zone, but an Eagle defender put a big lick on the receiver to jar the ball loose.
On fourth-and-3 from the 21-yard line, Polk didn’t try a game-winning kick with 31.6 seconds left.
Instead, on fourth down, Overholt bobbled a shotgun snap, giving time for two defenders to streak in and tackle him for a third turnover on downs.
Wilmoth got five yards on a sweep play, getting out of bounds with 20.1 seconds left.
Then Johnson dropped back, couldn’t find anyone and scrambled left. He spun away from a defender back to the right side, put a throw perfectly on the mark to Kidd up around the 40, and Kidd raced all the way to the end zone for a 71-yard score and a finish for the ages.
With their top seeding in the brackets, the Eagles will have another home game next Friday against Hendersonville (9-3), a 38-35 winner over Lexington in its first-round game.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.