DOBSON — Surry Central fans arrived in droves donning red, white, and blue to support the Golden Eagles in what was dubbed a “Party in the USA.”
Both East Surry and Surry Central entered Friday’s game with a zero in their record. The winless Eagles looked as if they might mount a comeback against undefeated East, but the Cardinals went on to crash Central’s party 43-21 to improve to 4-0 on the season.
East Surry showed off its aerial game from the get-go. Quarterback Stephen Gosnell connected with Dillon Mosley on a long pass to prevent a three-and-out to open the game.
A holding penalty and incomplete pass set up East with a third-and-17 situation near midfield. Gosnell inched closer to a first down with a six-yard pass to Jefferson Boaz, but the Cards still faced a fourth-and-11. Gosnell said ‘no problem,’ as he connected with Mosley on a 41-yard TD pass.
This wouldn’t be the last time Gosnell and Mosley would connect. Gosnell went on to throw for 134 yards while Mosley finished with 140 yards receiving. Derek Sutterby’s PAT soared through the upright to make it 7-0 less than three minutes in.
The Cardinals got the ball back off a three-and-out from the Eagles. Central’s Ryan Martin had two short runs up the middle but couldn’t crack the East defense. An interesting next drive for East Surry saw the Eagles’ defense return the favor.
Gosnell dropped back to pass on third-and-12 when David Lara charged him. Lara wrapped Gosnell up, but couldn’t bring him down, allowing the junior QB to scramble and target an open Quincy Smith. Smith snatched the ball out of the air before a big hit from Martin jarred the ball loose and forced a Cardinal punt.
The Eagles tried running with Tanner Boone and even gave Maisen Holt two shots to throw the ball. Central failed to move the chains and had to punt once again.
Central’s defense showed incredible toughness early on, but couldn’t stop East from making big plays. A sack by Isaiah Cave put East at third-and-19. Gosnell connected with Smith this time to put the Cardinals on the Central 6-yard line. Holding and illegal formation flags on East Surry moved them back to the 26 before Gosnell ran back to the 6 on third-and-23. Sutterby hit a 24-yard field goal to put the Cardinals up 10-0.
Martin put Surry Central in decent field position after returning the kickoff to the Eagles’ 44. Another run by Martin gave the Eagles their first first down of the night. They failed to get another on the drive, giving East the ball back to start the second quarter.
It was the ground game of Cardinals that served them well on the next drive. Gosnell and Ray moved the chains before Ray broke free on a 26-yard rushing touchdown, his first of two in the quarter, to put East up 16-0. Central senior Matthew White blocked the PAT to keep the score where it was.
It was a critical drive for the Eagles with 10:00 left in the second quarter. Central caught a break when an East penalty moved the ball from the five to the 15 on the kickoff. Martin took a direct snap in the Wildcat offense for a short gain that Daniel Valenzuela punched through for a first down.
Maisen Holt targeted Tanner Boone on a short pass and was bailed out by a roughing-the-passer call on East. Now in Cardinal territory, Martin and Boone moved the chains to the 15-yard line before Holt ran a 15-yard QB keeper to get on the board. Tony Cortes added the PAT to make to 16-7.
The Cardinals got the ball on their 46 due to an onside kick. Mosley took the ball to the SC 7-yard line on the first play, allowing Ray to punch the ball in to make it 23-7.
Carrying momentum from the previous drive, the Eagles made big plays of their own to keep the game competitive. Martin broke free for a 52-yard touchdown with just 3:36 left in the half to make it 23-14.
East Surry had a number of chances to increase the lead before halftime but was cursed by penalties. Boaz, now at QB, found Landon Stevens streaking for a 40+ yard touchdown, but it was called back on a holding penalty. Gosnell went back under center and connected Boaz on a touchdown pass that was also called back.
Boaz finally got his first passing TD of the night when he found Mosley for a 40-yarder with 1:12 left in the half. The teams entered halftime with the score 30-14.
Central failed to carry momentum over from the first half as it went three-and-out on the opening drive of the third quarter.
East then had two touchdowns called back, a Gosnell pass to Stevens and then another to Boaz. The Cardinals finally scored when Boaz caught a Gosnell pass before immediately shoveling it to Mosley for the TD.
Another three-and-out spelled the beginning of the end for Surry Central. Martin needed just two yards for a first down, but was held up by Dylan Sawyers. To make matters worse for the home team, it took East Surry less than two minutes to score after that. Boaz converted on a one-yard run to make it 43-14, with the PAT sailing wide of the uprights.
The back-and-forth first half was nothing like the second half. After the two quick TDs, East put the second unit in at a number of positions. The teams traded possession until Chase Holt broke free on a 60-yard run in the fourth quarter. Holt was tackled at the one, but set Martin up to score the final points of the game.
East Surry only beat Central 245-224 in rushing yards, but made up for it by out-throwing the Eagles 234-31. Gosnell had 134 yards passing on 6-for-12 and had two passing TDs. Boaz added 100 yards passing on 3-of-6 attempts and one passing TD. Maisen Holt finished 5-of-11 throwing with 31 yards.
Martin led all rushers with 121 yards on 15 attempts, including two touchdowns. Ray led the Cards with 110 yards rushing and two TDs on the ground.
East Surry (4-0) looks to stay undefeated when they host West Stokes (3-1) next week, while Central (0-4) enters its bye week.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith