PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry’s quarterback fired up the offense with a long run, then the defense came to the rescue in the third quarter as the Cardinals defeated North Stokes 21-16 Friday.
With a packed stadium for homecoming night, the Cards made a few mistakes early that the Vikings turned into a 13-0 lead with 10 seconds left in the first quarter.
John Dickenson scrambled 51 yards for a score to put East on the board, then Keanu Love came up with two big sacks to slow down the Viking passing attack.
All conference quarterback Garrett Wood threw for 364 yards, but he also was picked off twice and lost a fumble on a Love sack that was returned for a score.
North Stokes received the ball first and hit a couple of passes to midfield. Wood then threw a short pass to Dustin Smith, who broke a tackle and raced down the left sideline 50 yards to score just two and a half minutes into the game. With the extra point it was 7-0.
East Surry had some early drops in the passing attack that slowed its ball movement. However, punter Madison Chilton pinned North Stokes at the 11-yard line on the next possession.
After a Viking punt, the Cards moved into the red zone, but had a turnover on downs.
“We had two good chances to score and didn’t,” Coach David Diamont said after the game. “We need to improve on that. That’s my fault because I’m the one calling the plays.”
Another long pass to Smith got the Vikings to midfield. Wood then scrambled close to the 40-yard line. Then fullback Dillon Rogers broke lose for a 40-yard touchdown with 10.2 seconds left in the first. A two-point try failed to make it 13-0.
Running back Zach Koons broke off a long run of more than 50 yard, but it was called back by a hold. Still, the Cards picked up a couple of first downs before having to punt. Chilton again pinned the Vikings inside the 20.
Defensive lineman Christian Shinault had a big first half with several good plays and helped the defense stop North Stokes.
On the next Card possession, Dickenson picked up a first down with a run, then made a second first down with a scramble. Then he broke loose for a 51-yard score with help from a great crackback block by receiver R.J. Lawson. That made it 13-7 with 1:12 left before the half.
That was a big lift for the team, noted Diamont. “I can’t say we practice that though,” he joked.
Wood moved his team from the 15-yard line all the way to the 10-yard line with 9.9 seconds left, but couldn’t score. The Vikings settled for a 29-yard field goal to lead 16-7 at the break.
As for his halftime speech, Diamont said he just wanted to calm the guys down with all the hoopla of homecoming night. He and his staff made a few adjustments, too.
“They throw the ball extremely well,” he said of North Stokes. “They did a good job of it like they did last year against us.”
In the third quarter, the Vikings got the ball at the 27-yard line and moved to the 49 of East Surry on one pass play.
Momentum could have gone back to the visitors, but Shinault rushed the quarterback, who fumbled the ball, and Shinault recovered at the North Stokes 45-yard line.
Dickenson hit Jeremy Gilley with a long pass down the middle of the field against double coverage to the 8-yard line.
From there Zach Koons ran twice to paydirt, getting the score from 5 yards out. With the extra point, East was down just two at 16-14 with 7:36 left.
On the next drive, the Vikings started at the 34-yard line. Wood dropped back to throw, and Love hit him as his arm went back. The ball popped out as Shinault tried to retrieve it around the 27-yard line. Instead, Lucas Koons swooped in, grabbed the ball and raced to the end zone for the go-ahead score just 20 seconds after his brother scored the previous TD.
North Stokes made a good start to the next drive, but from the 38-yard line, Love sacked Wood all the way back to midfield to force a punt.
The Cards would make a couple of interceptions in the fourth quarter to keep the Vikings off the scoreboard.
“I thought we played extremely well in the second half defensively,” said Diamont. It was a very good defensive game for Keanu Love, who is getting better every game.
Zach Koons finished with 29 carries for 107 yards and a TD.
“Zach ran very hard all night long,” said Diamont. He fought for yards on every play.
Dickenson rushed eight times for 89 yards and a score. After the early drops, the passing attack picked up, and he finished 6-17 for 66 yards.
For North Stokes, Smith tallied 201 yards receiving, while Hopkins added 115 yards.
“I am really glad to get a win because it could have gone the other way very easily,” said the coach. “Our ball club needed to win.”
Reach Jeff Linville at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1920.