PILOT MOUNTAIN — In a game that pitted two of the top 1A teams in the region, East Wilkes and East Surry gave the crowd in Pilot Mountain a show on Friday night. Both teams came into the game after successful 2016 seasons. In the end, it was East Wilkes who took a 36-20 win over East Surry.
“I’m proud of our guys and I’m proud of our effort,” said East Wilkes Head Coach J.K. Adkins. “They played with a lot of guts. Our defense stepped up at times, and our offense stepped up at times. I thought it was a good team win all around.”
The game started out in East Wilkes’ favor as quarterback Bryce Vestal put the East Surry defense on its heels. Vestal ran for 60 yards. beating several defensive players to give East Wilkes a first down at the 22-yard line. On the next play, Vestal produced the first touchdown of the night after rolling to his left and bypassing three defensive players before coming back to the right to find the end zone. East Wilkes followed up the touchdown with a two-point conversion that was successful thanks to the speed of Damien Reid. The visiting Cardinals took the early 8-0 lead over the homestanding Cardinals.
While East Wilkes started its game off on the right foot, East Surry also put its best foot forward on the next few plays. East Surry was able to rely on Joey Ray to get the tough yards. As East Surry was driving down the field, Jefferson Boaz put his throwing arm to the test to find Stephen Creech for a 23-yard touchdown pass. They went for the extra point, which was no good.
“We beat a really good team tonight. They are a really good football team and they are going to win a lot of games this season,” said Adkins. “We played a really good back, that Ray kid is one of the best backs in the area but honestly, I thought our toughness was the deciding factor.”
East Wilkes still held an 8-6 lead, but it didn’t take long for East Surry to take the momentum back. After an East Wilkes fumble that was recovered by East Surry, then an East Surry fumble that was recovered by East Wilkes, the visitors went three-and-out to turn the ball over on downs.
East Surry found the end zone on its next series as Conner Sheets ran the ball in for a one-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion was no good, so East Surry led East Wilkes 12-8.
While East Surry was still celebrating its touchdown, Vestal wasted no time when it came to giving East Wilkes the lead back. It took 39 seconds for East Wilkes to answer East Surry’s score. Vestal broke away from three tackles before running 80 yards to give East Wilkes the lead back. The two-point conversion was no good, but East Wilkes had a 14-12 lead.
As the second quarter rolled on, East Wilkes was able to earn another touchdown courtesy of Mason Hartley. Vestal found Hartley in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown pass. The visitors once again went for the two-point conversion, as Deven Couch found his way into the end zone. East Wilkes was sitting pretty with a 22-12 lead going into halftime.
“On offense I just don’t think that we clicked very well and that’s my fault,” said East Surry head coach David Diamont. “I’m the one that runs the offense, so that’s all on me.
“Our kids need to work harder, whether it’s in the weight room, running sprints or coming off the ball. I don’t think we played as good as we possibly can play.”
In the third quarter, both teams came out of the locker room with a revved-up defense. East Wilkes’ defense was able to make critical stops, while East Surry’s defense came out stronger and faster.
In the final quarter, East Wilkes was able to strike first, as Vestal once again scored a touchdown. The two-point conversion was good by Reid to give East Wilkes a 30-12 lead.
In a turn of events, it took East Surry seven seconds to answer East Wilkes’ touchdown. Stephen Gosnell ran 80 yards to score a touchdown for East Surry. It would be East Surry’s final touchdown of the night, but it wouldn’t be the last one scored.
East Wilkes was able to score another touchdown on its next possession as Reid put the final nail in the coffin. The visitors were able to stand tall and see the game out as East Wilkes took a 36-20 win over East Surry.
“I think East Wilkes beat the heck out of us. They out-coached us and outplayed us,” said Diamont. “They were well prepared and they are a good football team. I told our team before the game started, here’s two good football teams, this is not going to be close. One is going to jump on the other and it’s going to be a two- or three-touchdown game, and sure enough, we’re the ones who got jumped on.
“It’s up to us to come back and stop feeling sorry for ourselves. We got beat, and we got beat soundly by a good football team, so now we have to see what we’ve got.”
East Wilkes (1-0) will travel to Surry Central (0-1) next week while East Surry (0-1) hosts Starmount (0-1).