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Just passing through – one of WNC football’s greatest nights through the air

The Hendersonville High at Smoky Mountain game last week produced one of the area’s greatest aerial showdowns in history, an epic game undecided until WNC’s all-time leading receiver made one last catch – as a defensive player. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

At first glance, it looked like just another high-scoring football affair between two very talented offenses in Mountain Six 2-A Conference play.

But upon closer inspection, the Hendersonville High at Smoky Mountain game last week produced one of the area’s greatest aerial showdowns in history, an epic game undecided until WNC’s all-time leading receiver made one last catch – as a defensive player.

The Bearcats (5-3, 1-1) survived a 51-45 shutout, but those mind-blowing numbers are the just start of some prodigious digits.

The two teams combined for 1,044 yards of offense, 830 in the air.

Both quarterbacks threw for 400 yards and combined for seven touchdown passes.

Hendersonville’s Alex Williford was 22-of-40 for 400 yards and four scores, with one interception.

The Mustangs’ Nate Coffey was equally brilliant, throwing for 430 yards and three TDs, with two picks on a 23-of-45 effort.

Each team had a pair of 100-yard receivers.

Tykel Landrum of Hendersonville hauled in nine passes for 177 yards and a score. Teammate Kalin Ensley had 163 yards receiving and a TD.

For the Mustangs (3-5, 0-2), Cody Lominac’s four-catch, 156-yard night included two touchdowns, and Emmitt Baldwin caught seven passes for 110 yards.

“In 24 years of being involved in high school football, I’ve never seen a game like that one,” said Smoky Mountain coach Chris Brookshire.

“We set all kinds of school records for passing for a season and a game, and we have never had to 100-yard receivers. Usually when you do that and score 45 points, you win.”

But in the end, it was a big defensive play that ended a night full of offense and flying footballs.

Down six points, the Mustangs and Coffey were driving for the winning score when Landrum secured his second interception of the game, clinching the victory with his theft at the Bearcats’ 10-yard line with just over a minute left to play.

That capped another great game in an incredible career for Landrum, WNC’s all-time leader in receptions (228), receiving yardage (4,155 yards) and touchdown receptions (43).

According to the NCHSAA record book, he ranks sixth in the state in each of those three career marks.

Defensively, his numbers are just as strong. In his fourth season with the Bearcats, he has 237 tackles and 26 interceptions.

“He’s just a phenomenal athlete,” said Brookshire. “I talked to him after the game, and he seems like an even better kid, just real grounded.

“He’s a real tough match-up for any team. He’s not real big, but he’s tough, and he’s strong. When he gets his hands on the ball, it’s caught.”

The 96 combined points scored is just two shy of the state record of 98 points scored in a regulation game, when Southwest Guilford and Eastern Wayne tied at 49-49 in 2014.

After their huge nights, Coffey (2,111 yards) and Williford (1,927 yards) now rank 1-2 in WNC in passing yardage. Coffey also leads all local QBs with 20 TD passes, while Williford is third with 18.

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