Ashland • Ashland head coach Christopher Suggs has preached a simple message to his team all season.

“Let’s break the mold, and change the atmosphere.”

The Ashland Blue Devils took a huge step on Friday in changing the perception of the football program, defeating the Myrtle Hawks 38-36 in a triple-overtime thriller in front of a packed homecoming crowd, all while putting themselves squarely in the driver’s seat for a potential playoff berth in division 1-1A.

“We’ve been preaching the same thing all year,” Coach Suggs said postgame. “Just one step at a time, one day at a time. It just paid off finally.”

Ashland did not get off to the best of starts, falling into a 14-0 hole in the first half thanks to Myrtle capitalizing off of several Blue Devil fumbles. Fumbling was a key issue for both teams on the night, as they combined for 5 lost fumbles and struggled to gain offensive momentum. Ashland managed to score just before halftime to make the score 14-6.

The second half proved to be more of the same for both teams, as neither team could overcome fumbling issues that, when they didn’t result in turnovers, completely stalled offensive drives. The Blue Devils managed to tie the score in the third quarter 14-14, and the score stayed tied up through the end of the fourth quarter, as Myrtle missed a potential game winning field goal in the final seconds of regulation, forcing overtime.

It was in overtime when Ashland quarterback Emit Bell stepped up in a big way for his team, tossing a touchdown in each of the 3 overtime periods to keep pace with Myrtle. Both teams traded touchdowns and two point conversions until Ashland made a goal line stand to stop a Myrtle two point conversion to seal the win.

“They believed in me,” Bell said of his teammates postgame. “They put their trust in me, and I had to give them my all and not give up in the three overtimes.”

Ashland will look to continue their march towards a potential playoff birth when they travel to Thrasher to take on the Rebels on Friday, Oct. 30.

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