Mount Airy shut down West Stokes for the entire first half, but the Wildcats played better in the second half for a 27-20 win.
The Granite Bear defense was so stout in the first half that West Stokes didn’t have a single first down until the final minute of the second quarter.
The Bears forced four punts and a fumble, but a special teams blunder cost the team seven points.
The Bears took over at their 24-yard line with 7:09 left in the first quarter. Unable to move the ball, the Bears tried to punt, but the punter fumbled the snap. That gave linebacker Tyler Walker time to close in and make a block.
The Wildcats took over at the 9-yard line.
Big Devan Hairston (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) rushed to the 2, then scored on the next play to make it 7-0 with 4:45 left in the first.
Unfortunately for the home team, the Bears couldn’t get any offense going either, punting on their first three attempts.
After a switch of punters, QB Ian Holder hit a low wobbler that took a friendly roll all the way to the 17-yard line.
The Bears forced a three-and-out, and the punt only made it to the 29-yard line.
As the second quarter started, the Bears were one yard from making a first down for the first time. At the 20-yard line, Holder kept the ball and rushed all the way for a TD. That made it 7-7 with 11:53 in the half.
The Bears forced another three-and-out on West Stokes and took over at midfield. They put together their best sustained drive of the game, picking up three first downs to the 9-yard line before Robert Brown made a 26-yard field goal to give Mount Airy a 10-7 lead with 4:19 left.
On the next play from scrimmage, the Cats fumbled, and Mount Airy took over on the 25. Unable to move the ball, Brown boomed an impressive 42-yard field goal to make it 13-7 with 1:20 left.
Mount Airy received the ball to start the second half and got some momentum going off rollout passes from Holder to fullback Jackson Smith.
The Bears made it just inside the red zone before Smith was stuffed by two defenders on fourth and 1. West Stokes took over at the 20-yard line.
Hairston made a good run and was hit late by a second defender for a 15-yard penalty. That moved the ball all the way to the Bears’ 45.
By this point, several Bears had gone down with leg cramps including Smith, Malik Frost and Clayton Cogdill.
The Cats picked up two more first downs, then Hairston broke two tackles to score from 14 yards out.
The extra point just barely made the left upright for a 14-13 lead with 3:34 left in the third.
Holder hit Smith with two more rollout passes to move the Bears from the 22 into Wildcat territory.
Eventually at the 35-yard line, the Bears again went for it on fourth down, and Orion Ramey was stopped at the 36-yard line at the start of the fourth quarter.
Alex Manley hit Alex Helvey for a 48-yard bomb to the 6-yard line. Hairston scored from there to make it 21-13 with 9:48 left.
The Bears went three-and-out and tried to punt away, but Holder’s kick went straight up and only covered five yards. Helvey ran up, caught the ball on the bounce and made it to the 2-yard line before being tackled.
Then Manley scored on a sneak from a yard out to make it 27-13 with 6:43 left. The extra point missed.
On the next drive, Frost broke loose for a 40-yard run. A horse collar tackle moved the ball to the 3-yard line. Ramey plucked the ball up from his shoelaces for a 3-yard TD pass to make it 27-20.
However, Hairston picked up two first downs, and West Stokes could run out the clock.
He finished with 16 carries for 125 yards, while the rest of his team had 13 carries for -8 yards.
According to WPAQ Radio, the Bears had 43 carries for 154 yards and 216 total. However, the Bears didn’t take advantage of red zone opportunities like the Wildcats.
Next week, the Bears (1-1) travel to Elkin for their first road game.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692 and on Twitter @SportsDudeJeff.