Big plays, bigger defense lift Bears

By John Cate - jcate@mtairynews.com
The Bears’ Jaedon Hill looks for yardage against Elkin defender Luke Belia (33) during Friday night’s game. - John Cate | The News
All Elkin’s sideline can do is watch as Donavon Greene gets ready to haul in what became a 74-yard touchdown pass for a 15-0 Mount Airy lead early in the second quarter. - John Cate | The News
Mount Airy linebacker Ben Reales makes one of several tackles for losses in Friday night’s Mount Airy win. - John Cate | The News
The Bears run onto the field for their home opener, only to be immediately sent back into the locker room for an 18-minute lightning delay. - - John Cate | The News

It took Mount Airy’s offense a while to get going Friday night. Fortunately, the defense was ready from the get-go, and once the offense did get going, it was sure to be a long night for visiting Elkin.

The Granite Bears scored four second-quarter touchdowns and completed their scoring on the first play of the second half, when Donavon Greene began the third quarter with an 88-yard kickoff return. The clock ran continuously for the rest of what became a 42-13 victory for MaxPreps’ fourth-ranked 1A team.

Elkin, which came into the game at 2-0 for the first time in nine years, was competitive for a quarter, but had no answer for the speed of the Bears. Mount Airy (3-0) big-played the Elks to death, scoring on touchdown passes of 74, 61 and 65 yards, in addition to Greene’s kickoff return. Both Greenes, Donavon and brother Greg, had a TD reception, and Kaulin Smith had the other.

The Bears’ home opener had a surreal beginning. The team busted through the banner and started running onto the field when they were waved back to the locker room. Just as the game was getting ready to start, lightning was sighted, and play didn’t begin until 7:48 p.m.

The Elks had the ball first, and Bear defenders Ben Reales and Rayquan Brown let Elkin quarterback Ty Townsend know early that the visitors had their work cut out for them. They teamed up to drop Townsend for a loss on second down, and the Elks were forced to punt two plays later.

Mount Airy started its first series with good field position at its 41, and a 15-yard run by Jaedon Hill followed by three short pass completions earned the Bears a first down at the Elkin 32-yard line. But the Elks’ Luke Belia stepped up and sacked Mount Airy quarterback Holden Poindexter, and the Bears ended the series two yards short of a first down.

“We felt like we needed to jump on these guys early and set the tone for the game,” said Mount Airy coach J.K. Adkins. “The first series was kind of disappointing, but after the first series I thought we kind of got rolling a little bit and did some good things.”

The teams traded punts on their next series, but the Bears won the exchange when Armando Estrada boomed his down to the Elks’ 7-yard line. Two players later, Elkin fumbled and Cole Shelton recovered it for the boys in navy and white.

Poindexter faked a handoff to Hill and then called his own number for the touchdown with 2:47 left in the opening quarter. Hill ran for two points and an 8-0 lead.

Townsend had been shaken up on the previous series, but recovered in time to take the field again, and immediately hit Belia for a 15-yard gain to the Elkin 43. Unfortunately, the Bears’ Eric Olvera blew up a running play and forced Elkin into long yardage, and the Elks had to punt as the second quarter got under way.

“Elkin has been able to move the ball pretty well, and grind it, run the clock and just ball-control people,” said Adkins. “Our defense did a phenomenal job of stopping them and getting touches in the first half, and we were able to maximize those touches.”

Mount Airy’s first play from scrimmage following the punt saw Donavon Greene explode down the visiting sideline wide open, haul in Poindexter’s pass around the Elkin 43, and take it to the house. Jackson Tumbarello’s point-after made it 15-0, and the Bears were just getting started.

After another three-and-out where Reales blew up an Elkin play for lost yardage, the Bears had the ball at their own 17. A defensive holding foul on the Elks and two runs by Hill made it first down at the 39. On the next play, Greg Greene ran a post route over the middle, hauled in the pass around the Elkin 40 and headed for the end zone. One of the Elks had a chance to bring him down at the 19, but Greene ran through it, kept his footing and scored. With 8:09 left in the half, the visitors must have been feeling a bit Greene as their deficit ballooned to 22-0.

Things went from bad to worse for the Elks. Brandon Loredo ran Tumbarello’s kickoff back over the 20, where Estrada rung his bell, and Elkin was lucky to retrieve the fumble back at the 13. Townsend ran for a first down, but then the Elks had to punt again.

The Bears committed back-to-back holding penalties and faced first-and-30 from their own 35. Poindexter responded by hitting Smith on a wide receiver screen and watched the Team Elite track standout get a few blocks and then sprint to the end zone for a 29-0 lead with 5:49 left in the first half.

The last Mount Airy touchdown of the half came on a series that began at their own 30 with 2:49 left in the quarter. Greg Greene kept the drive alive with a 15-yard reception on third down, and then the Bears got 15 more because the Elks roughed Poindexter on the play. He got even by tossing to his other Greene for 16 more on the next play. The Bears went for the six moments later, but Elkin intefered with Smith to prevent it. This made it first down at the 11, and on second down, Hill dragged three Elks with him to the 3. He got the call on the next play and scored to make it 35-0 at the half.

The Bears were set to get the ball first to open the second half, and Donavon Greene got the ball on one hop around the 12 and ran up the middle of the field, ran through an arm tackle and got excellent blocking, and wasn’t touched over the last 65 yards.

The rest of the game was played with a running clock, but that didn’t stop the Elks from competing. Elkin drove 65 yards for a touchdown on its next series, with several of the Bears’ defensive starters still on the field. Townsend did most of it himself, making a 17-yard run on fourth down to the Bears’ 31, then making a 12-yard scamper to convert a third-and-10. On the next third down, he ran 10 yards for a touchdown, and Elkin got on the board with 4:46 left in the third, down 42-7.

Townsend had another big play for the visitors midway through the fourth quarter, running 48 yards for a touchdown with 5:23 left in the contest to produce the final score.

Poindexter didn’t break the single-game passing record for a third straight week, but he did throw for more than 200 yards once again, while Hill did a strong job filling in for a banged-up Johnathon Smith at running back.

“Jaedon Hill has done a great job, and he took all of the practice reps this week, and we felt like he could get the job done,” said Adkins.

It marked the second time in three games that the Bears played short-handed on that side of the ball, but were still able to light up the scoreboard.

“Once we have all of our bullets in the gun, I think we can be a pretty good offensive team,” Adkins said. “We’ve done pretty well so far, I think.”

The Bears will travel to Eden Morehead (2-1) next week, while Elkin takes the week off before hosting South Stokes on Sept. 14.

The Bears’ Jaedon Hill looks for yardage against Elkin defender Luke Belia (33) during Friday night’s game.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_DSC_0004.jpgThe Bears’ Jaedon Hill looks for yardage against Elkin defender Luke Belia (33) during Friday night’s game. John Cate | The News

All Elkin’s sideline can do is watch as Donavon Greene gets ready to haul in what became a 74-yard touchdown pass for a 15-0 Mount Airy lead early in the second quarter.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_DSC_0022.jpgAll Elkin’s sideline can do is watch as Donavon Greene gets ready to haul in what became a 74-yard touchdown pass for a 15-0 Mount Airy lead early in the second quarter. John Cate | The News

Mount Airy linebacker Ben Reales makes one of several tackles for losses in Friday night’s Mount Airy win.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_DSC_0031-1.jpgMount Airy linebacker Ben Reales makes one of several tackles for losses in Friday night’s Mount Airy win. John Cate | The News

The Bears run onto the field for their home opener, only to be immediately sent back into the locker room for an 18-minute lightning delay.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_DSC_1011.jpgThe Bears run onto the field for their home opener, only to be immediately sent back into the locker room for an 18-minute lightning delay. John Cate | The News

By John Cate

jcate@mtairynews.com

Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.

Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.