WALNUT COVE — Stokes County is glad to see the end of the 2017 Mount Airy Granite Bears.
The state’s second-ranked 1A team completed its reign of terror in the county to the south on Friday night, scoring on its first eight possessions of the game to rout host South Stokes 56-0 in round two of the Northwest 1A Conference race.
Mount Airy (8-0, 2-0 NW1A) defeated all three Stokes high schools this season by a composite score of 150-20. The Bears beat West Stokes earlier this season, and last week, blanked North Stokes 59-0. This week’s contest was little more competitive than that one was. The Sauras (3-5, 1-1) never prevented Mount Airy’s first team from finding the end zone, and their only serious threat at scoring ended on a controversial play at the end of the first half.
The Bears had little problems finding the end zone from the get-go. After stopping South Stokes on its first offensive series, Mount Airy set up camp at the Sauras’ 30-yard line and scored in three plays, the last one a 23-yard run by Johnathon Smith after two and a half minutes of play. They had their second score a little over two minutes later, when another three-and-out by the defense resulted in the Bears again getting the ball in excellent field position, at the hosts’ 35. This time, Ian Holder called his number on first down and took it to the house. A successful two-point conversion made the score 15-0.
The South Stokes offense continued to be stuck in the wrong gear. Two costly penalties forced them to put from their 8, but Alex Booe hit an excellent punt that finally made the Bears snap the ball on their end of the field, at the 46. But on third-and-13, Holder got into the clear after being flushed from the pocket and ran for 35 yards and a first down at the Sauras’ 22. He handed off to Smith on the next play, and the sophomore dashed into the end zone. Stokes’ DeCarlos Rogers blocked the extra point, but it was still 21-0 with 3:08 left in the opening period.
The Sauras managed to get the ball across midfield on their next series, but were halted on downs at the Bears’ 44. That was just in time for Holder to throw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Donavon Greene after just 21 seconds of play in the second quarter.
South Stokes again shot itself in the foot afterwards. Ryan Moses returned the kickoff into Mount Airy territory, but a penalty moved the ball all the way back to the Sauras’ 22. They went three-and-out again, and an altercation on the punt resulted in a 15-yard penalty and Mount Airy starting on South’s 35. Holder promptly tossed a touchdown pass to Greene on first down, and the lead ballooned to 35-0.
Four a half minutes later, the Bears found the end zone again, this time with Jeremiah Rosser taking it in from 10 yards out on a jet sweep with 4:31 to play in the opening half. The 42-0 lead ensured a running clock, but by rule, this couldn’t begin until the second half.
Smith had a 62-yard touchdown run at the 3:06 mark, and the Bears matched last week’s 49-point first half performance.
Following that score, the Sauras finally generated some offense and moved to the Mount Airy 11-yard line with time running out in the first half. With 7.4 seconds left, quarterback Austin Lilly tried to find a man in the end zone under heavy defensive pressure and eventually threw incomplete as the last second ticked off the scoreboard clock. Although it appeared as if the ball had fallen incomplete with about half a second to play, the Bears began running off the field, and the officials ignored Saura coach Mike Holmes’ protest that some time should be put back on the clock.
South Stokes never got close to the end zone again, but the visitors found it one more time, on their first possession of the second half. The Bears went back to the jet sweep with Grayson Corbin, and he took it 62 yards to the house to push the lead to 56-0.
With the game well in hand, both teams seemed eager to get the night’s proceedings done with, particularly since there had been some chippy play at the end of the second quarter. The Sauras did cross midfield one more time in the final period, with Lilly hitting Paul Thomas Fischer for a 26-yard gain down to the Bears’ 30. However, the Mount Airy defense stiffened there, forced South Stokes into a third-down situation, and Clay Taylor intercepted a pass in the end zone to end the threat.
The Bears will be back home next week for their third conference contest, this one against Winston-Salem Prep (1-7, 0-3), a 58-20 loser to East Surry on Friday night. South Stokes will look for win number four next Friday night at Bishop McGuinness (3-5, 1-1), who beat North Stokes 35-0 this week.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.