KERNERSVILLE — Linebacker Stephen Creech of East Surry isn’t used to taking handoffs, but he knew what to do when Bishop McGuinness nearly handed him the ball twice on Friday night.
Creech scooped up two muffed handoffs, returning one of them for a touchdown and another to the 1-yard-line to set up another score as the visiting Cardinals blasted the Villains 41-7 in a Northwest 1A Conference game.
“Both of them were zone read plays, and they couldn’t read it and dropped the ball,” said Creech, a 6-foot-1, 183-pound junior. “Both times, the ball bounced one time, and I picked it up. I thought I had the second touchdown, but I couldn’t extend far enough.”
Creech’s first touchdown return, on Bishop’s first play from scrimmage, went for 22 yards and gave East Surry a 14-0 lead. His second return, early in the second quarter, carried 21 yards to the Villains’ 1 to set up Jose Juarez’s 1-yard run and a 20-7 Cardinals lead.
East Surry (6-3, 3-1) tacked on another second-quarter touchdown and scored once each in the third and fourth quarters, giving Coach Dave Diamont a reason to be pleased.
“This has been a very tough season for some of our kids, and we’ve had so many injuries lately,” he said. “But the kids kept playing hard. Our secondary played very well; they throw the ball real well, and we were playing some young kids out back there.”
Bishop (4-6, 2-3) lost its fourth straight home game, playing without starting quarterback Peter Ingle, who didn’t dress out for the game for reasons that Coach Charlie Jones couldn’t discuss. In his place, 6-foot-4 junior Jake Babcock showed a strong arm in throwing for 180 yards and the Villains’ lone touchdown, a 38-yard strike to C.J. Cappuccio late in the first quarter.
“The (quarterback situation) put us in a tough spot, but our kids tried their hardest and fought to the end,” Jones said. “Jake might have to be in there again next time. We’ve got two weeks, and we’ve got to get better.”
East Surry, which broke on top 7-0 on Trevor Hauser’s 38-yard touchdown pass to Quincy Smith on its first offensive possession, didn’t complete another pass, but it didn’t need to. The Cardinals rushed 31 times for 309 yards, with junior Joey Ray carrying 16 times for 158 yards and two touchdowns — eight yards just before halftime and 28 yards in the third quarter. Juarez finished with 77 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, and Mitchell Edwards added 65 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
Babcock completed 12 of 34 passes in a brisk wind and had several others dropped, but he also threw two interceptions, one of which East Surry turned into a touchdown on a short drive late in the second quarter, with Ray going the final eight yards.
The teams were flagged 21 times for a combined 162 penalty yards. Babcock moved the Villains from their 18 to the Cardinals’ 9 late in the third quarter, but holding and false-start penalties pushed Bishop back to the 24, and he was sacked on fourth-and-goal.