ELKIN — Football season officially kicked off Friday night and fans couldn’t have been happier to see the sport return. Come the end of the night, however, some fans were happier than others.
Surry Central (0-1) and Elkin opened the 2018 season just as they did in 2017. Each team showed some good and some bad in their latest encounter, but it was ultimately Elkin that took home the W. The Buckin’ Elks’ first half scoring barrage and Central’s struggling offense led to a 30-0 victory for the home team.
Elkin (1-0) received the opening kickoff and wasted little time establishing a ground game. Courtland Sturdivant returned kickoff to the Elks 44-yard line, and the team immediately entered Eagle territory with a 9-yard run by Tyler Mayes.
Quarterback Ty Townson nearly broke free on a big run before being halted by Central’s Junior Palacios. Townson did end up making breaking free on the ensuing play, rushing 35 yards for the first touchdown of the season less than three minutes into the game. Brady Shugart added the PAT to put Elkin up 7-0.
Palacios returned the kickoff to the 33 on the Eagles first drive of the night. The Golden Eagles also tried to work the ground game, but were halted by the intimidating lineman of Elkin. Maisen Holt and Ryan Martin both lost yardage on rush attempts, leading to a quick three-and-out.
Even without a number of defensive starters, Central held it’s own against Elkin at times. It was the explosive play of Townson that the Eagles had trouble containing. After Central forced a third-and-13, Townson rushed from his own 35 to the Eagles 16. Townson was on his way to scoring another touchdown when he was chased down by Martin.
Martin’s save gave Central time to regroup and focus on red zone defense. It paid off, as the Eagle D forced a fumble that was recovered by Central junior Isaiah Cave.
Central wasn’t out of hot water just yet. The Eagles started the drive on their own 7-yard line. Elkin’s Boone Beaver broke through the Eagles blockers to tackle Holt for a safety with 4:35 left in the first.
The Elks took to the air more in the drive following the safety. Townsend kept passes short and would scramble if the right pieces weren’t in place. Boone Beaver inched the Elks forward with runs from the fullback position before Townsend scored his second rushing touchdown of the night. The PAT split the uprights to go up 16-0 as the first quarter came to an end.
The second quarter was reminiscent of the first in that Central struggled on offense while Elkin made slow, meticulous drives. The Eagles defense was once again tested as the Elks entered the red zone with 7:34 left in the first half. Surry Central was also without cornerback TJ Atkins, who went down with an injury in the second quarter. Nonetheless, the Eagles made a goal line stand and forced fourth-and-goal on the 6-yard line. Townson connected with Mayes on a crossing route in the end zone to increase the lead to 22-0, 24-0 after the 2-point conversion.
Central was still in the fight, though. Holt took a chance on a pass to Palacious that went just out of reach. Martin made up for it though with a 16-yard run. Holt tried another pass with Karson Crouse as the intended receiver, but the ball was knocked lose after Crouse made the initial catch. Holt was sacked on third and long, forcing another Surry Central punt.
Elkin looked to have the last drive of the half until a fumble recovered by Central’s Kolton Quesinberry gave the Eagles another chance. It wouldn’t work, however, as the visitors went into the locker room down 24-0.
Despite the lopsided scoreboard, Surry Central’s defense really stepped up in the second half. The team’s alternated between punts throughout the third and fourth quarters. Central freshman Logan Priddy very nearly nabbed an interception, while Elkin forced, but didn’t recover, a number of fumbles.
Martin and Kade Norman’s names were called over the loudspeaker a number of times in the second half for their tackling contributions for Surry Central. The same was true for Boone Beaver and Brandon Loredo of Elkin. Brett Beaver made his contributions as the Elks’ third and fourth quarter QB.
It wasn’t until the the fourth quarter that the scoreboard changed. Graylon Hughes recovered a fumble deep in Central territory and ran it into the end zone to increase the lead to 30-0 where it would remain for the rest of the game.
The only other time either team truly threatened to score was with just six minutes left in the game. A pass from Brett Beaver to Luke Bellia put the Elks on the 2-yard line. The Eagles defense made a goal line stand and forced a turnover on downs to keep the lead where it was for the remainder of the game.
The Eagles look to bounce back when they travel to East Wilkes (0-1) next week, while Elkin looks to gain momentum against North Surry (1-0).
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith