DANBURY — North Stokes kept going backward as the Bears stifled the Viking ground attack in a 45-7 win.
The Mount Airy defensive front broke into the backfield time and time again, tackling runners for big losses and harassing quarterback Garrett Wood.
Wood is one of four all-conference selections back on offense for North Stokes. Wide receiver Matt Hopkins was one of three local players to make the 1A all-state preseason team (with Mount Airy’s Austin Taylor and South Stokes’ Zack Singleton).
Wood didn’t have a chance to set his feet all night because he was running for his life, said Tommy Morrison, WPAQ radio announcer. And the Bears locked up Hopkins so that he only had two catches for seven yards.
“When you can get pressure on the quarterback, it really helps you out,” said Coach Kelly Holder. “Julius (Coram) played very well (Friday) night as well as some others.”
Morrison said he unofficially had Coram with four sacks on the night, firing off the edge of the line.
Despite the pressure, Wood still completed 12-27 passes for 154 yards.
However, he had six quarterback keeper plays that lost 52 yards. The Viking rushing attack finished with 19 tries for negative-73 yards.
While the Bears posted 45 points on offense, Holder admitted, “We didn’t have far to go because of our defense.”
Mount Airy used that excellent field position to jump-start several scoring drives.
“We’ve really been trying to establish a running game,” said Holder. “When you get into the meat of the conference schedule and in the playoffs, you’ve got to be able to run the ball.”
Rather than one player getting the bulk of the workload, the Bears have four and five players a game getting carries.
“We’re pretty spread out,” he said. “We have a lot of guys who are going to touch it. That’s kind of what we evolved into.”
In this game, Davontae Dobson led the team with 63 yards on 13 tries. E.J. Helton had nine rushes for 58 yards. Quarterback Austin Taylor had seven runs for 45 yards, and receiver Darius Gwyn had three carries for 45.
Defensive tackle Zaqwan Dobson also has carried the ball many times for the offense, and fullback Andrew Jones gets the occasional handoff.
Taylor played to about the middle of the third quarter, then backup QB Kelton Walser subbed in.
Taylor finished 5-9 for 71 yards with three TDs and one interception.
The Bears finished with 260 yards rushing and 331 total yards from scrimmage.
Zaqwan Dobson opened the scoring with a 2-yard run in the first quarter. With a Mitchell Brown kick, the Bears led 7-0.
Junior receiver Julian Rawley provided two touchdown catches in the first half.
Rawley had a 3-yard catch from Taylor to make it 14-0. Then after a 33-yard field goal from Brown, Rawley added a 5-yard catch to push the lead to 24-0 at the half.
In the third quarter, Taylor got his third TD pass, a 15-yard hookup with Jones. That gave the Bears a 31-0 lead and let Taylor sit the rest of the way.
On their next possession, the Bears capped off a drive with a 12-yard run. Brown, who was 6-6 on extra points, added a kick for a 38-0 margin.
North Stokes finally broke through with a long pass. Wood went 55 yards to T.J. Sonafrank to make it 38-7.
Then in the fourth quarter, Walser ran 12 yards for a TD to finish the scoring.
Mount Airy improved to 5-1 with its fifth-straight win. The Bears are 3-0 in the Northwest Conference, tied for first place with North Surry, which comes to town on Friday.
Mount Airy High School will be selling tickets early this week to help ease the long lines expected at the gate for this big rivalry game.
Starting Monday at 8 a.m., tickets will be available for $5 each at the school’s main office until 2 p.m. each day Monday to Thursday. Then tickets will only be available from 8 to 10 a.m. on Friday. The gates at Wallace Shelton Stadium open at 6 p.m. Friday.