WINSTON-SALEM — Coming into Friday night’s game, North Surry had never beaten Carver. That finally changed, but the Yellowjackets didn’t make easy.
The Greyhounds’ Darius Duncan made a dazzling 72-yard catch-and-run reception for the winning touchdown with about three minutes to play, and North Surry escaped from Winston-Salem with a 17-15 victory and its hopes of winning a conference title for the first time in 17 years alive.
The Hounds (8-1, 4-0 Western Piedmont Athletic Conference) had been prohibitive favorites to beat the Yellowjackets, who are in a rebuilding mode this season with a new coach after several years of contending for the title. Carver, which won three straight WPAC titles before finishing second in each of the past two years, came into Friday’s game at 1-7, but that record was misleading, since the Yellowjackets started the season by playing five strong 4A teams, and have also already faced and lost to West Stokes as well.
Desperately needing a win to stay in the conference race, Carver came out and gave everything it had against the Hounds. The Yellowjackets trailed 10-0 after three quarters on a sloppy field, but mounted a furious rally in the fourth quarter to take the lead.
Starting a drive late in the third quarter, Carver moved into North Surry territory and finally got on the board a minute into the final period when Milan Ruffin hauled in a 12-yard touchdown pass. The Yellowjackets went for two and got it, reducing the Hounds’ lead to 10-8.
Carver’s defense was able to get a stop, and then the home team marched downfield again, finally scoring on another touchdown pass with about three and a half minutes left. Keyshawn Jackson hauled in the pass to put the Yellowjackets on top 14-10, and this time Carver kicked an extra point to lead by five.
The Hounds needed to open up a can of wasp killer, and they needed it fast. Luckily, they had one…and its name wasn’t Raid, it was Duncan.
The senior, who had already found the end zone once, hauled in a short pass from Swartz, broke three tackles and was almost brought down after about a 12-yard gain, but escaped from the tackle, then finally found some open field down the visitors’ sideline and headed for the Carver end zone. Several defenders gave chase, and Duncan wasn’t clear of all of them until he was inside the hosts’ 10-yard line. The score put North Surry back on top, and they held on Carver’s final possession to secure the hard-fought victory.
The Greyhounds took the lead late in the first quarter when Swartz found Duncan for a 25-yard touchdown strike over the middle with about two minutes left in the opening quarter. Ethan Oakley’s PAT put North in front 7-0. Neither team could find the end zone again in the first half, and that was the score as the Hounds and Jackets went into the break.
North got the ball first to open the second half and took the ball into the Carver red zone, but the Yellowjacket defense found its sting in the shadow of the goal line and forced head coach Danny Lyons to send out Oakley, whose 20-yard field goal made it 10-0 with eight minutes left in the third.
The Hounds are two weeks away from a possible showdown at home with West Stokes for the league crown, but can’t afford to overlook Forbush this coming Friday night. The Falcons (3-5, 2-1 WPAC) stayed in contention themselves with a 24-7 victory over Surry Central this week, playing some of their best football of the season.