DOBSON — The Golden Eagles downed East Wilkes Friday thanks to some big plays from the defense.
Surry Central had a couple of nice defensive stands on first downs in the red zone. East Wilkes came away with zero points on those two drives.
With Central winning by 10 points at 30-20, a touchdown on each of those two drives could have given the Cardinals a victory.
On one of those drives, the Eagles had the ball deep in their own territory. Kirk Needham threw a pass, but East’s Robbie Bentley picked it off and headed for the end zone.
The Eagles reacted quickly and brought the defender down before he could score, but the ball was marked inside the 2-yard line. That gave East Wilkes four tries from about 6 feet out.
One of the biggest plays of the night came as East Wilkes tried to go wide with a deep running back.
Tyler Daniels got off the ball and shot into the backfield to stop the runner all the way back to the 12-yard line.
After that, East Wilkes ended up turning the ball over on downs.
In the third quarter, Central punted the ball to about East’s 30-yard line. The Cards moved the ball all the way to a first down in the red zone. Then the home team clamped down again.
The Cards turned the ball over on downs at the 7-yard line.
Tyler’s big play on the first goal-line stand set the tone for the whole team. Then linebacker Stephen Bruner made the stop on fourth down.
Bruner just quietly went about his business and led the team in tackles, said head coach Monty Southern. He’s a glue player, doing all the necessary things to help a team get better.
Another big boost to the defense came from sophomore lineman David Pena.
Pena can be a laid-back kid, but something happened in that game that got him fired up, and it was something to see him playing like that, said Southern.
Pena, who wrestles at the heavyweight class, is the biggest player on the team. Southern said the young man made up his mind that no one was running through his gap, and he shut down that whole area of the field.
At one point in the second half, Pena went down with a leg cramp. Southern said Pena didn’t let up at all when he went back in.
Alex Martin, who was one of the primary runners on offense, also played strong safety on defense.
Alex is a downhill tackler who runs up and takes guys down within two or three yards of the line of scrimmage, said the coach. That limited the Cards on making positive yards to keep the chains moving.
A sophomore linebacker had to step up and play a big role in the second half.
Early in the second half, defensive back Kirk Needham made an interception. Linebacker Zack Martin saw the interception and turned to start blocking for a return.
Kirk went down pretty quickly, and Zack didn’t see it, said Southern. Zack made a pancake block that would have been great, except an official was blowing the whistle over at another part of the field.
Zack was ejected for knocking the player down, which means he couldn’t come back for the rest of that game and will sit this Friday against Wilkes Central, too.
That left Chandler Johnson, the backup quarterback, manning the inside linebacker spot with Bruner.
That was kind of a funny sight seeing those two lined up next to each other because Bruner is seven or eight inches taller than Chandler, said Southern. But Chandler is a good, confident player who doesn’t let his size stop him from making plays.
As for those fourth-down plays, Southern said he is fortunate to have good special teams play from punter Alex Martin and soccer team kickers Uriel Secundino and Jose Avalos.
East Wilkes didn’t have a very good punter, and it didn’t even attempt a field goal on those two trips into the red zone.
Southern is hoping for more good play from his defense and special teams when the Golden Eagles host Wilkes Central on Friday.