BOONVILLE — “That looked like us.” So said Starmount Coach Scott Johnson as he walked off the field Friday night after a 38-15 win over East Surry Friday night.
The win came on the heels of a 28-17 loss to Mount Airy a week before — a game that was tight at the half.
Starmount was up 10-7 after a half Friday night, but it was three touchdowns in the first seven minutes of the third quarter that all but sealed the victory.
“We’re up three,” Johnson said. “The start of the third quarter is a big deal for us. The effort was there.”
“We don’t feel like we played with the kind of toughness Starmount is known for last week,” Johnson said. “We challenged them to do that tonight. When your quarterback (Zach Freed) is that physical it it says a lot about him and it says a lot about your football team.”
Freed finished with 21 carries for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
Johnson said he was not pleased with his team’s effort a week ago. “They accepted the challenge,” Johnson said. “I asked this week, ‘are you soft’?” And they accepted that challenge.”
Senior Sawyer Davis had another impressive performance. His 43-yard run in the second quarter set up Starmount’s first touchdown. His interception late in the third quarter ended any hope of an East Surry comeback.
“Sawyer Davis is football player,” Johnson said. “He’s just tough. He never lets up.
“He’s what you want in a middle linebacker and fullback.”
Johnson said his defensive line played “much better. Josh Houser was a man.” Houser, Johnson said, was getting double-teamed but still getting the job done.
Houser had two sacks on East Surry’s first two possessions that set the tone for the Rams defensively.
“Our defensive backs were covering well,” Houser said. “It bought us some time.”
Houser said the loss to Mount Airy wasn’t just a game. “It’s never good to lose,” Houser said. “It kind of woke us up. It was more of a toughness thing. We had to show we weren’t soft.
“I just want to thank the Starmount community for cheering us on. Even after a tough loss like last week.”
“The first game is a benchmark,” Johnson said. “Now we’re where we wanted to be this week.”
Nick Gunnell put the Rams up 3-0 with a field goal with 6:57 to play in the first quarter.
Zach Freed capped a nine-play, 77-yard drive with a three-yard run to put Starmount up 10-0 with 6:12 to play before half.
East Surry, held to minus-27 yards of offense in the first quarter, responded with a nine-play, 68-yard drive, capped by a two-yard run by Lucas Koons.
Up 10-7 entering the third quarter the Rams started deep in East Surry territory after Brandon Prescott returned the opening kickoff to the Cardinal 27. On the sixth play of the drive, Freed followed Trey Bryant’s blocking into the end zone to put the Rams up 17-7.
After a three-and-out and a shanked punt, Starmount set up shop at the East Surry 38. On the first play, John Johnson broke it for 38 yards and a touchdown to make it 24-7.
On the ensuing kickoff, Brandon Lopez recovered an East Surry fumble at the East Surry 13. Three plays later, Johnson was in the end zone following an 11-yard run and the Cardinals were clearly in trouble.
East Surry cut it to 31-15 after blocking a punt early in the fourth quarter. Tyler Smith, who threw for 124 yards, found Blake Marion for an 18-yard catch and run for the touchdown. Smith then found Marion for the two-point conversion.
Marion would finish with six catches for 107 yards.
Ken Kelly completed the scoring with a 12-yard run with 1:33 to play. Kelly’s run capped a five-play, 36-yard drive after the Cardinals turned it over on downs.
Johnson had nothing but praise for the Cardinals, who fell to 1-1. “They will probably finish high,” Johnson said. “They’ll give Mount Airy a run for the conference.” Johnson said he was particularly impressed with the way East Surry threw the ball.
Starmount is at South Iredell Friday. East Surry is at home against North Surry.
ES 0 7 0 8 — 15
S 3 7 21 7 — 38
S — Nick Gunnell 43 FG
S — Zach Freed 3 run (Gunnell kick)
ES — Lucas Koons 2 run (Devon Goble kick)
S — Freed 5 run (Gunnell kick)
S — John Johnson 38 run (Gunnell kick)
S — Johnson 11 run (Gunnell kick)
ES — Blake Marion 18 pass from Tyler Smith (Marion from Smith)
S — Ken Kelly 12 run (Gunnell kick)