DOBSON — Elkin snapped a 17-game losing streak by beating Surry Central on the road 31-14 in the season opener Friday night.
On Oct. 5, 2015, the Buckin’ Elks defeated North Wilkes 28-14. After that, the Elks lost the last six games of that season and all 11 games last year. Elkin had lost 24 of its past 25 games dating back to the end of 2014.
The Golden Eagles, on the other hand, were coming off the best season in school history, racking up a school-record 11-1 mark before falling in the state 2A playoffs.
After losing a lot of players, however, head coach Monty Southern said after the game, “We’ve got a lot of kids who played their first varsity game, so hopefully they got some good experience and can grow from it.”
The game began with three straight possessions without a first down before Elkin’s Jaylen Mayes turned the left corner and picked up 11 yards. Then Hayden Brooks rushed for 16 more.
A short pass to Brooks to the left flat turned into a 29-yard play. Then Mayes rushed for 16 yards to the 1-yard line before quarterback Beau Burgess scored on a sneak. With 3:54 left in the quarter, Elkin led 7-0.
Surry Central looked ready to answer.
Martin Palacios hit Noah Cox on a 14-yard pass. Matthew White rushed for a first down. Ryan Martin, White and Palacios took turns rushing to pick up another couple of first downs to the 30-yard line.
Austin Mills caught a pass to the 18-yard line.
Then the Eagles found themselves at fourth and 3 at the 11-yard line. Palacios bobbled the shotgun snap, picked it up and found a rushing defender right in his face. He rolled out to the left and tried to find a receiver past the sticks. He threw the ball up the left sideline, but Elkin’s Ty Townsend stepped in front of the receiver at the 10-yard line and rushed up the field 77 yards to the Central 13-yard line.
That play changed the momentum of the game. Instead of a tie game, the Eagles would struggle, failing to pick up a first down on their next three drives. By the time the home team got into a flow again in the third quarter, Elkin was ahead 25-0.
The lead could have been more, but Elkin’s kicker missed a 32-yard field goal just right after the interception.
Then, after Mayes scored a 44-yard touchdown run with a sideline tiptoe, the extra point hit the left upright.
Before halftime, Elkin drove from its own 6-yard line to the Central 15 before Burgess found Colt Henderson in the deep right corner for a touchdown pass to make it 19-0. Then a two-point conversion failed.
Another field-goal attempt never got high enough to make it over the cross bar. Otherwise, Elkin could have been up 28-0 at the break.
Southern said he told his boys at the half that they were down by 19 points and there’s no play in the world worth 20 points. He said they’d have to dig deep and claw their way back.
That’s something that last year’s team had to do a couple of times.
Unfortunately, a fumble on a bouncing punt gave Elkin the ball at Central’s 24-yard line. From there, Mayes scored from five yards out to make it 25-0 with the two-point try failing.
After a trade of possessions, Central would take over at its own 9-yard line late in the third quarter.
Palacios hit a 25-yard pass to get the team out of its own red zone. A couple of runs by Martin and White picked up nine yards. A quarterback keeper got a second first down. A pass to Martin moved the ball to the Elkin 35.
On fourth down, Palacios hit Cox for 11 yards to the 20 for a first down.
Palacios rushed for seven yards, then had a pass down to the 2-yard line as the third quarter ended. At the start of the fourth, Martin scored the Eagles’ first points, then Palacios added the extra point to make it 25-7.
Later in the quarter, Martin would break loose for a 66-yard touchdown, but Elkin answered to make it 31-14.
Martin played well, said Southern. He ran the ball hard.
The passing game made a couple of good plays, said the coach. Some guys made nice catches, but the offense has to take better care of the ball.
While Central has a lot of youth this year, one area of experience is the offensive line.
“We didn’t move people the way I thought we would,” said Southern. Because of some injuries, the guys on the offensive line had to play on the defense some, too.
The starters have to get in better shape to handle the fatigue, he said, and other players have to step up and take some of those reps so the starters get rests.
Over, the team didn’t play well enough consistently at each of the three levels on both sides of the ball, said the coach. But, the boys are young and are learning fast.
Next week, Surry Central is home again to face East Wilkes.
Jeff is the news editor and can be reached at 415-4692.