Wildcats survive Cavs comeback

Published | Sep 2, 2023

It was another instant classic in the 14th meeting of the newest fierce Burke County gridiron rivalry.

Draughn built a 25-6 third-quarter lead looking to put a lock on a win they were avenging from last season.

East Burke came alive with touchdown runs by Jacob Dellinger from 41, 42, and 4 yards.

After Dellinger’s third touchdown, a two-point conversion attempt was stopped with a little over two minutes left.

With hopes of East Burke getting the ball back for a last rallying drive, Nigel Dula nailed the 33-24 win down for the Wildcats with a 49-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion.

Dula finished with 157 rushing yards and four touchdowns after being held to 30 yards at halftime.

“I’m treating this like every other game, just got to play my game no matter who is across the line. My o-line is the best,” said Dula.

Dula’s first two touchdown runs were short-yardage runs in the second quarter around a 56-yard touchdown run by KJ Byrd to get the Cavaliers on the board.

His third touchdown run came by Draughn opening the third quarter with a ten-play drive including two Eli Tillery passes.

The Wildcats immediately got the ball back off a recovered fumble by Shaydon Pino but it only amounted to a 27-yard field goal by Rudy Mendoza.

The Dellinger rally was then put to execution with a five-play drive resulting in Dellinger’s first touchdown run.

Two Wildcat turnovers on downs and a blocked punt resulted in the subsequent two Dellinger touchdown runs.

The last East Burke drive ended on an interception by Sterling Radabaugh after getting within the opposing red zone in the last minute of play.

Pino, Marshall Brinkley, and Jacob Mull each recorded a tackle for loss for the Wildcat defense with assisted tackles by Hampton Blackwell, Will Seagle, Justice Cunningham, and Connor Pinkerton.

“It feels pretty nice to win but we still have work to do,” said Blackwell.

East Burke defensive leaders included Dellinger (3 pass breaks), Levi Coble (3 TFL), Brady Bostain (2 TFL, sack, blocked punt), Jordan Fox (TFL), Gavon Franklin (TFL), Diego Ramos, Darren Hammons, and Zayne Newman.

Draughn has one last non-conference game with Chase at home next Friday.

East Burke will have a bye week before opening Catawba Valley Athletic 2A Conference play with Maiden at home on September 15th.

Coach’s Postgame Thoughts

At the end of the day, our kids didn’t come in too tight. We were focused and loose but we didn’t play four quarters of football

Chris Powell

We got behind early but our kids responded, our body language was not the characteristic of our team. I’m just proud of our guys fighting back against a solid team

Derrick Minor

Scoring Summary

First Quarter


Second Quarter

D- Nigel Dula 5 run (Rudy Mendoza kick)

EB- KJ Byrd 56 run (run failed)

D- Dula 5 run (Mendoza kick)

Third Quarter

D- Dula 2 run (Eli Tillery run)

D- Mendoza 27 field goal

EB- Jacob Dellinger 41 run (run failed)

Fourth Quarter

EB- Dellinger 42 run (kick failed)

EB- Dellinger 4 run (run failed)

D- Dula 49 run (Dula run)

Nigel Dula rushing through the East Burke defense (David Harmon)

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