DOBSON — The Surry Central Golden Eagles put on a show for current and former students alike on the school’s Homecoming night. A stellar all-around performance from Martin Palacios gave the Eagles their first win of the season, 31-26, over the Atkins Camels.
In a game against the Camels, it was Surry Central that came out of the gate slow. Three early flags led fans to believe they were in for another loss, but the Eagles soon got their act together. Central used a combination of rushing and passing to advance the ball. Ryan Martin moved the chains on the ground and Tanner Boone in the air. Despite getting into the red zone, the Eagles settled for a field goal from Palacios to go up 3-0.
The Camels took over looking to pass the ball, but were halted by the Central cornerbacks. When faced with a third-and-three situation, back-to-back penalties by the Camels moved them back 10 yards. When they were unable to convert, the ball came back to Surry Central.
Usually a run-dominated team, Central kept going to the air, and it yielded positive results. Short passes to Boone and Martin put the Eagles in Camel territory, but they were again stopped just short of the end zone. The Eagles attempted a 40-yard field goal that lined up correctly, but it fell just short of the upright.
Atkins quarterback LeShod Johnson connected with Trey Banner for the Camels’ first first down of the game. Johnson continued targeting Banner and Maiz Lawson on the drive into the second quarter, but not enough to keep the chains moving.
Central went back to the ground game in their first drive of quarter number two. Palacios ran up the middle on a quarterback keeper and used his 5’8” frame to drag defenders with him. Palacios even converted on a fourth-and-two to keep the drive alive. Palacios attempted an end zone pass to Boone, but it went through his fingers. Then he took matters into his own hands by taking the ball 25 yards into the end zone. Palacios also kicked the PAT to put the Eagles up 10-0.
Atkins continued its offensive struggles on another three-and-out, and were forced to punt after a sack from Central’s Forrest Antwine. The snap soared over the punter’s head to give the ball to Central on the Camels’ 14-yard line. The Atkins defense made up for the snafu by forcing a fumble on the Eagles’ first play of the drive. The one-upsmanship continued when Martin intercepted Johnson’s pass on the second play of Atkins’ series.
The Camels kept the Eagles out of the end zone and looked to get on the scoreboard before the half. A good QB keeper from Johnson and a roughing-the-passer penalty on Central put the Camels in striking distance. Xavier Kelley ran into the end zone, but it was called back due to a holding penalty. Atkins went for broke on fourth-and-13, but threw the ball away to Central’s Tanner Boone.
The game continued to get even more hectic when another fumble by the Eagles gave the ball to Atkins with under two minutes left in the first half. Kelley ran the ball in once again and this time it counted. Central led 10-6 at halftime.
The Camels changed strategy in the second half by keeping the ball on the ground. Maiz Lawson moved the chains for Atkins and put them in the red zone. Kelley found the end zone once again to give Atkins a 12-10 lead following a missed PAT.
Not to be outdone, Palacios and Martin used their own solid running game to move the ball up the field. The third quarter flew by due to more rushing keeping the clock running. Another big difference in the third quarter was the lack of penalties and interceptions. Both teams played tough, but kept it clean for the most part. Martin ran in a four-yard touchdown to put the Eagles back on top 17-12.
Atkins played with the idea of throwing the ball again, but Central cornerback Michael Blevins didn’t allow it and forced the Camels to return to the running game. By advancing the ball on the ground, Johnson surprised defenders and took a shot to the end zone, connecting with Lawson for a touchdown. The Camels added a two-point conversion to go up 20-17.
Palacios wasted little time getting back in his element, taking the ball 60 yards to score just over a minute after the Camels did. Central went into the fourth quarter ahead 24-20. For the first time in the third quarter, a team was forced to fourth down when Gabe Simmons sacked Johnson. The Camels punted the ball to begin the final 12 minutes of play.
Though neither team committed a turnover in the third quarter, the same cannot be said for the fourth. A Surry Central fumble gave Atkins possession on the Eagles’ 30-yard line. The Central defense stepped up to keep Atkins from scoring and regained possession due to a turnover on downs.
Palacios had already played a phenomenal game for Surry Central, and added to his highlight reel with a 96-yard touchdown run to put the Eagles up 31-20. Central added insult to injury when Dylan Toney recovered the kickoff for the Eagles. Though the ball would return to the Camels, there just wasn’t enough time on the clock. Atkins was able to cut the lead to 31-26, but the Eagles would walk away the victors.
Surry Central travels to conference foe North Surry’s field next week in hopes of earning victory number two. The Camels look to bounce back from the loss next week when they host Forbush.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith