North Surry took the opening kickoff down the field to score and never looked back in a 28-7 conference win over rival Surry Central at home Friday night.
The Greyhounds led 21-0 at halftime and nearly pitched a shutout before the Golden Eagles scored with a minute and a half left. The Hounds then took three straight kneels to run out the clock.
North’s running attack picked up yards in chunks all night.
Sammy McMillian had runs of of 9, 11, 18, 20 and 24 yards, for 82 of his yards on just five carries. He finished with 115 yards on 17 carries.
Ryan Smith had runs of 22, 28, 32 and 37 yards for 119 of his yards in just five carries. With a couple of negative plays, Smith wound up with the same 119 yards on 13 carries, according to the coaches, along with two TD runs.
At the start of the game, quarterback Chase Swartz gave the ball to Chandler Hawks for a 19-yard gain.
The offense was using an old T formation play that Coach Kirk Martin used to have the Hounds run back in the 1990s, said Coach Danny Lyons. At halftime, the school honored Martin’s four straight conference title teams from 1997-2000, and Lyons wanted to honor his old coach as well.
Then McMillian picked up 20 yards to reach the 26-yard line, and a 15-yard penalty on the tackle put the ball on the 13.
A couple of runs later, Schwartz hit Darius Duncan on a slant pass for a 9-yard touchdown just 2:20 into the game to lead 7-0.
Surry Central would open the game with the first of three straight three-and-out drives.
On its second possession, North advanced to the 33-yard line before stalling. On fourth-and-6, Swartz found Duncan on a crossing pattern, but the receiver couldn’t bring the ball in and they turned the ball over on downs.
After a second Eagle punt, the Hounds took over on their 37-yard line. They moved down the field to the red zone and faced a third-and-8 at the 12. On a reverse, the handoff was bobbled, and the Eagles fell on the ball at the 16-yard line, the second turnover of the quarter.
Central could only advance to its 22, and the punt only backed North up to its 43.
Swartz found Hawks for a short gain on the last play of the first quarter. Then after a sack, he found Jordan Shelar for a 49-yard gain down to the 9-yard line. From there, Ryan Smith rushed into the end zone for a touchdown with 10:48 in the half to lead 14-0.
Surry Central finally got its offense going, picking up three first downs moving from its 20 into Hound territory before a fumble ended a promising drive.
Carson Todd had a 13-yard catch, McMillian picked up nine on the ground. Then Smith went 28 yards down to the 3-yard line. On the next play. he punched it in for his second score to make it 21-0 with 6:36 left in the half. The drive took just 69 seconds.
Central couldn’t get a first down on its next two drives, and the score stayed 21-0 into the half.
The Eagles came out strong in the third, moving the ball well. Then on fourth-and-2, the Eagles got just one yard and turned the ball over.
North moved the ball to the Central 33 before stalling, but went for it on fourth-and-8 since it was too far for a field goal. The turnover on downs gave the ball back to Central, who again started moving up the field.
The Eagles garnered four first downs all the way to first-and-goal, but ran out of gas at the 3-yard line.
Smith had two long runs to get the ball across midfield, then a punt pinned Central inside its 20.
On a scramble, quarterback Martin Palacios tried to throw, but the ball came out wobbly and was intercepted by Nick Rodriguez and returned to the 30-yard line. That would lead to a 3-yard TD pass from Swartz to Todd with 4:14 left.
In the final minutes, Central moved the ball down the field and finally broke into the end zone on a 25-yard TD pass from Palacios to Forrest Antwine.
The Greyhounds improved to 7-1.
Lyons said this is the fifth time in eight games that the offense has taken its first possession down the field and scored, which makes him very proud. It doesn’t guarantee a win to do that, but it takes a lot of pressure off the team to get those early points.
Offensively, the team moved the ball well all night, he said. In addition to the two running backs, Swartz finished 10-17 for 163 yards and two TDs. Todd had four catches for 56 yards and a TD, and Shelar added two catches for 67 yards.
Getting 21 points in the first half was very good, and yet Lyons felt like they left a few points out there to be had.
“But give credit to Surry Central for making stops,” he said. “Central had all the seniors last year, and we’re the ones with the seniors this year,” but the young guys are showing plenty of heart.
“I thought the defensive effort was great,” said Central head coach Monty Southern. “The boys played hard, but missed some tackles that resulted in big gains. Of course, he added, you have to credit North, too, because those backs are tough to bring down.”
In the second half, the Eagles contained the Hounds except for the one drive with a shortened field after the interception.
“Offensively, we were fighting for every yard, but maybe I put them in the hole with my playcalling,” Southern said, taking the blame for the slow start in the first quarter.
“Ryan Martin has run the ball well for us this year,” said Southern. “He’s a junior, he played JV for us last year.”
“I felt like last week we had a ton of big plays,” he added. “North Surry didn’t give up those big plays. This team has to learn to put together longer drives, which includes not having any negative plays that puts the team at bad down and distances.”
“On film, Palacios does some things that make you say wow,” said Lyons. The defense did a great job of containing him and making tackles so he didn’t explode for big gains. He credited outside linebackers Michael Martin and Caleb Hunter for setting the edge, and inside linebacker Nic Rodriguez for providing a physical presence in the middle.
Defensively it was a team effort, he said, all 11 guys engaged with a good job by defensive coordinator Jordan Tucker.
Next week, the Hounds travel to Carver, while Central hosts Forbush.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.