East Surry got its defense of the Northwest 1A Conference title off to a good start on Friday night, grinding out a 41-6 victory over an improving Atkins team in the Cardinals’ first game after a bye week.
The Cardinals (3-2, 1-0 NW1A) received much more a fight from the Camels (0-6, 0-1) than they did a year ago, and it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that East Surry was able to pull its starters out of the game.
East Surry appeared to be on its way to another romp in the first quarter, when the team put a pair of touchdowns on the board. Joey Ray got the Cardinals on the board with a 10-yard run exactly five minutes into the game, and on their next series, East made it 14-0 when quarterback Trevor Hauser called his own number and went in from the 3-yard line with three minutes left in the period.
The visitors extended the lead to 21-0 in the second quarter, this time scoring on a five-yard run by Hauser at the 10:26 mark, but the Camels refused to roll over, and got back into the game with a 13-play drive late in the first half, scoring on a five-yard quarterback keeper by LeShod Johnson to close to within 21-6 at intermission. The visitors kept their lead at 15 points by blocking the extra point.
East Surry was never in any danger of losing the game, but the Cardinals ended up having to settle for grinding out a decisive victory.
They mounted another drive early in the third quarter, using hard running by Ray to move deep into Camel territory. With 6:56 left in the period, Hauser made it three-for-three on touchdowns when he snuck in from the Atkins 1-yard line. The three scores were the only carries that the junior signal-caller had during the evening.
With 8:50 left in the game, Joey Ray, who led all rushers with 169 yards on the night, found his way into the Camels’ end zone from three yards out. With just five games into the books this season, the junior already has 808 yards rushing.
After Ray’s second score, East Surry coach David Diamont cleared his bench, but the Cardinals scored on their next drive as well, this time with Mitchell Edwards reaching paydirt from five yards out for the final 41-6 margin with 4:26 left to play.
Cardinal kicker Ryan Sutterby went 5-for-6 on extra-point kicks during the contest.
The victory put East Surry at 1-0 in conference play, but the Cardinals will play one more non-conference game this Friday night. Coming into the season, next week’s game with South Stokes looked like an easy touch, but the Sauras got a new coach in the off-season and a new attitude. After a dismal 0-11 campaign in 2015, South Stokes is 2-3 with two wins in its last three games, including a 50-26 rout of Bishop McGuinness on Friday.