DOBSON — The Surry Central football team couldn’t hide its emotions on Friday night.
The Golden Eagles hadn’t defeated Mount Airy since 1998, but all that changed after four quarters of clutch defense and timely offensive plays that helped Surry Central (2-3) pull off a 20-0 upset.
Players hugged and cried as they celebrated the win. Many of the Eagles weren’t alive for the last victory over their rivals, but they still knew what this meant to the Surry Central program as a whole.
“I talked about it with my leaders this week,” said Central coach Monty Southern. “They knew it had been a long time, and we knew they were a very good team, but we felt like we still hadn’t played up to our potential. Tonight, we did.”
Surry Central’s defense rose to the occasion on Friday night, especially on fourth downs.
The Granite Bears (3-2) went for it on the final down six times, but they were only able to convert on one of those tries.
The Eagles got the scoring started in the first quarter after a Mount Airy missed field goal. Surry Central marched 80 yards in six plays as Eric Ramirez scored his first touchdown of the night on a 33-yard run with 2:51 left in the period.
Mount Airy took over and threatened to tie the game, but the Eagles got their first fourth-down stop of the night when they stuffed Jackson Smith at the line of scrimmage on a fourth-and-one from the Surry Central 18-yard line.
“When they get inside the 30, and you know they have a good kicker so they could put up three points every time, but to hold them to zero was so big for us,” Southern said.
Surry Central’s offense sputtered on the next drive, but the defense once again made a big play and forced a fumble and took over deep inside Mount Airy territory early in the second quarter.
Starting from the Bear 24-yard line, Surry Central ran the ball seven straight times and Ramirez eventually gave the Eagles a 13-0 lead they carried into halftime with a one-yard touchdown run.
The Golden Eagles’ starting running back finished the night with 15 carries for 79 yards and his two scores.
Mount Airy’s offense actually outgained the Golden Eagles, but the Bears just couldn’t quite cash in on their opportunities when they got inside the red zone.
In the second half, Mount Airy got inside Surry Central’s 30-yard line on three separate occasions but came away with zero points. Penalties played a part, as the Bears committed seven infractions for 63 yards.
“We’re not good enough offensively to give points away,” said Mount Airy coach Kelly Holder. “We just didn’t do a lot of things right tonight.”
Ian Holder was the lone bright spot for Mount Airy on offense, racking up 150 passing yards and 53 yards on the ground.
Surry Central put the nail in the coffin late in the fourth quarter. Ramirez left the game with cramps, and Noah Wilmoth entered the game at fullback to replace him.
Wilmoth’s first carry out of this position was an 80-yard scamper down the left sideline for the final Eagle touchdown of the night. The run gave Surry Central a 20-0 lead, and the fans and players finally started to realize what they had accomplished.
However, the defense was still the bread and butter of the Golden Eagles’ win. Defensive coordinator Mark Snow came up with a game plan designed on stopping the Mount Airy rushing attack, and it paid off.
“Our defensive line was great tonight. They battled hard,” Snow said. “Taking away the run game and forcing them to throw the ball where as they’ve been able to pound us in the pass, it helped us a lot.”
This was Coach Holder’s first loss to his former school and only the fourth time Surry Central came away with a victory in 47 meetings between the schools, according to Bear historian Doug McDaniel.
Mount Airy will have a bye week to regroup and get focused before it starts conference play against North Stokes on Oct. 2, while the Golden Eagles will look to keep their winning streak going on the road against Salisbury next Friday.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16