DOBSON — So far this season, the fourth quarter has belonged to Surry Central.
The Golden Eagles trailed visiting Wilkes Central by a touchdown going into the final quarter of the game between the two schools Friday night, but two touchdown drives in the final period and a final stand on the visitors’ attempt at a game-winning two-point conversion try with 1:18 remaining lifted Surry Central to a 28-27 victory.
Wilkes Central senior running back Justin Parsons, who sliced and diced his way through the Golden Eagles’ defense for 316 yards on 36 carries, gave his team a chance to win the game when he bolted 32 yards to paydirt as the game was winding to a close. Wilkes coach Ron Turner decided to go for two and the win on the road, but the Surry Central defense regrouped, stopped the attempt, and held onto a one-point lead.
“Wilkes Central had lined up in the Wildcat formation and snapped the ball to Parsons quite a few times,” said Surry Central coach Monty Southern. “I think they had made up their minds they would go for two and run the Wildcat with Parsons even before they scored.
“They called time-out to give their players a rest before the conversion, and we anticipated what they would do. Parsons still looked like he had a pretty big hole, and I thought he was going to score. But Riley Dockery made a great play, and stopped him about a foot short of the goal line.”
Wilkes needed a successful onside kick to have a shot at another possession and taking the lead, but Hobie Arnder snagged the short kick as part of the Surry Central “good hands” team, and the Golden Eagles’ offense was able to run out the clock with a few kneel-downs.
With the win, Surry Central is off to a 3-0 start for the first time in 13 years, and the Golden Eagles stand an excellent chance of making it 4-0 next week, when they will host winless Elkin, a 62-7 loser to Mount Airy on Friday night.
Surry Central drew first blood, driving down the field early in the first quarter and taking an 8-0 lead on a 27-yard pass from Chandler Johnson to Jed Kidd with 7:10 left in the opening period, followed by a two-point conversion. The Golden Eagles’ defense held on the first Wilkes possession and then moved back into Wilkes territory late in the opening period, but were unable to convert it into points.
Surry Central stayed ahead for nearly the entire first half, but Parsons finally got his team on the board in the final seconds of the second quarter, crashing in from the one-yard line to tie the score at 8 going into the intermission.
Wilkes Central (2-1) stayed in the ascendant as the third quarter got under way, driving the field again and taking the lead for the first time on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Camden Wyatt to Joseph “JoJo” Horton with 6:11 left in the quarter. This gave the visitors a 15-8 lead, and they remained on top even after the Golden Eagles quickly responded with a touchdown of their own, on a 24-yard reception by Ethan Danley from Johnson. Down 15-14, Surry Central botched their attempt at a PAT kick, and remained down by one point.
Fortunately for the home team, Wilkes Central did likewise when Parsons struck again with just 66 seconds left in the quarter. The Wilkes star broke containment and romped 70 yards for a touchdown, but their attempt at a conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the lead still at one possession, 21-14.
The game was still very much in doubt even after Wilkes’ strong second and third quarters, and the Golden Eagles immediately mounted a counterattack. Johnson led Central’s offense on a drive into Wilkes Central territory, and Ramirez found his way into the Wilkes end zone from 15 yards out with 10:09 remaining, pulling his team back to within a single point. This time, Martin Palacios converted the extra point and the game was tied for the second time.
Ramirez, who had an outstanding game in his own right with 154 yards on 16 carries, was again front and center as the Golden Eagles started another drive midway through the fourth quarter. The visitors had a chance to stop the march and force a risky field-goal attempt on a third-and-1 from their 11 with 3:39 left, but Central got the first down and scored 34 seconds later, when Ramirez crashed in from the 3. Another successful PAT kick by Palacios gave the home team a 28-21 lead.
Neither team’s defense had much left, and it was no surprise when Parsons again ripped through the Surry Central defenders and bolted 32 yards to the end zone with 78 seconds left. But the Golden Eagles were able to hold on the two-point attempt and secure the hard-fought victory.
“It came down to us making one play,” said Southern. “It was pretty much the same for them as for us, both offenses played pretty well and both defenses were back on their heels for most of the night.”
It wasn’t lost on the coach that these were the same types of plays that the Golden Eagles didn’t make a year ago, when they suffered several disappointing losses.
“Everybody talks about how we have all of those seniors, but we’ve also put in a lot of work,” said Southern. “These kids are a year older and stronger, and I think they have a lot of belief in themselves, especially after winning the last two games by one point.”
Johnson completed nine of 14 passes for 147 yards in the victory.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.