The Mount Airy football team got back on track in the 2015 season with an uplifting win over the North Stokes Vikings on Monday night.
The Granite Bears (4-2, 1-0 Northwest Conference) spent two weeks with a bad taste in their mouths after a loss to Surry Central followed by a bye week, but Mount Airy led from start to finish in a 38-0 homecoming victory over North Stokes.
“It was a tough two weeks for us,” Bear coach Kelly Holder said. “I love the character and the heart of this team, and I knew we were going to bounce back.”
Mount Airy’s defense turned in one of its most dominant performances of the season in the conference opener, creating four turnovers and only allowing one first down throughout the evening.
Trey Simmons and Clayton Cogdill each recovered fumbles, while Malik Frost recorded his first interception of the season. The final North Stokes turnover was on a botched punt.
The Vikings (4-3, 1-1) field one of the conference’s biggest offensive lines, but they were no match for Gabriel and Ezekiel King up front for the Granite Bears.
However, the Mount Airy defense has been strong all year, and it was the other side of the ball that needed to show improvement after the bye week.
The team failed to score a single point against Surry Central two weeks ago, but Mount Airy’s offense was both efficient and explosive against the Vikings.
Ian Holder marched the Bears down the field on their first drive. His screen pass to Frost opened up the scoring, as the junior wide receiver turned it upfield, down the right sideline for a 41-yard touchdown.
Holder had one of his best passing nights of the season on Monday, finishing the contest 8-11 for 157 yards. Frost was his favorite target, hauling in five catches for 98 yards.
After the touchdown, penalties and untimely negative plays stalled the Mount Airy offense for a long period. It wasn’t until the final stages of the first half that the Bears found their groove again.
Mount Airy started its second scoring drive late in the second quarter from their four-yard line. The Bears marched 96 yards in 11 plays and capped it off with a three-yard run from Orion Ramey to make it 14-0.
A North Stokes turnover on the ensuing drive gave Mount Airy terrific field position inside the Vikings’ five-yard line.
One play later, Holder faked a handoff and bootlegged to his right into a wide-open end zone for a commanding 21-0 lead.
“When you have a defense that creates turnovers and plays that well, you are going to have plenty of chances to score,” Coach Holder said. “When you get the ball from the five-yard line, you’ve got to punch it in, and we did that tonight.”
The third quarter started with a three-and-out for Mount Airy, but the Bears would go on to score on their final three drives of the game.
North Stokes got its only first down of the game with 8:10 remaining in the third period, but on the very next play, the Bears’ defense forced another fumble and took over on the Vikings’ 27-yard line.
Two passes and four rushes led to a 28-0 lead for Mount Airy. It was freshman Donavon Greene, making his first varsity appearance for the Bears, who punched it in from five yards for the touchdown.
Kenyon Smith was Mount Airy’s leading rusher on the evening, and he got in on the scoring with 2:39 remaining in the third quarter with a five-yard run. Smith finished the evening with 90 yards on 18 rushes.
However, Smith was the recipient of a tough hit from a North Stokes defender on his final carry of the night. The senior running back landed on his neck and needed to be transported to a local hospital. Coach Holder said that Smith was responsive and had feeling before leaving the field.
A Robert Brown field goal on the last drive of the night gave Mount Airy its final score and the 38-0 win.
The Bears will travel to take on Winston-Salem Prep (3-3, 1-1 NWC) this Friday in the Bears’ second conference game of the season. The game will be played at Atkins High School.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16