BOONVILLE — Mount Airy broke a four-game losing streak to Starmount with a 28-17 win Friday night.
Both defenses held very well in the first half, but the Bears came out with a vengeance in the third quarter and made two long drives for scores.
The Rams stuck around thanks to a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in between Mount Airy’s two scores.
Sihem Smith tackled the punter on the Rams’ side of the 50 to give the Bears excellent field position for a third touchdown of the second half and a 28-10 lead.
By the time the Rams converted a short run for a touchdown, only 54.5 seconds remained, and the Granite Bears could run out the clock.
In the first quarter, Caleb Horton had a long punt return to midfield that looked like it might spark the Bears. However, the Rams were stingy in the first quarter and got some help from the Bears.
On a third-and-13 play, QB Logan Holder found Cordell France on the left side for a 22-yard gain, but there was an ineligible lineman downfield for a 5-yard penalty.
In the second quarter, halfback Shay Wilson broke loose for a 50-yard run up the right side, but it was called back for a bad block by the tight end.
Then on third-and-23, Holder threw a deep ball down the right sideline that Horton leaped high to catch, but came down out of bounds.
Even the sideline official remarked, “That was a heck of a catch!”
After a Bear punt, Gabriel King came up with a QB sack on third down to force a Starmount punt.
The Bears took over at their 37-yard line.
Andrew Jones and Wilson each had a run to produce a first down just across midfield.
Wilson broke loose from two tacklers at the line for a 7-yard gain to the 41.
Jones rumbled to the 30 for another first down.
Wilson was hit in the backfield but spun free for a hard-earned five yards.
Holder completed a pass to Cordell France for a first down to the 20-yard line, then he lofted a jump ball to Horton, who came down with it at the 3-yard line.
From there, Wilson took a pitch left and scored with 1:40 left before the half.
Bradley Prescott took the kickoff from the 15 all the way to the Bears 26-yard line. Isiah Simmons chased him down for a touchdown-saving tackle.
With time running out, the Rams made it to the 10-yard line with 3.6 seconds left. They kicked a 27-yard field goal to make it 7-3 at the half.
Starmount got the ball first in the third quarter, but only made it to the 36-yard line.
After a punt, Devontae Dobson got behind the defense on the left side, but had to wait for Holder’s pass to reach him. The defense hit Dobson first for a 15-yard penalty.
After that, Wilson and Jones carried the ball down the field before Wilson scored along the home team’s sideline from 15 yards out.
Freshman kicker Robert Brown, brother of last year’s kicker Mitchell Brown, made the extra point for a 14-3 score with 4:12 left in the third.
On the ensuing kickoff, the returner bobbled the ball at the 9, picked it up and nearly was tackled at his 20.
The runner broke free and raced up the field.
Brown and Dobson got in front of the returner and had the angle, but the runner hesitated and cut right to allow two blockers to get in front and occupy the Bears for the 91-yard TD return.
The Rams kicked off deep to Wilson, who made his own strong return out to the 45-yard line before a defender got him around the ankles to save a TD.
As it turned out, that only delayed a TD.
Wilson made a 23-yard run up the right side, then came out for a breather.
Dobson had a 7-yard gain, and then Jones picked up two and a half to make it third and a foot to go.
Holder took a quarterback sneak up the middle, broke a tackle and sprinted straight up the field for a 27-yard TD to make it 21-10.
The next possession is when Smith tackled the punter after a low snap. That gave Mount Airy the ball at the 36-yard line.
A pass to Horton moved the ball to the 26. Dobson and Wilson then moved the ball to the 5-yard line where Horton took and end-around handoff and scampered into the right corner of the end zone.
That made it 28-10 with 5:48 to go.
The Rams did score again, but it took five minutes off the clock and left no time to get any closer.