North Surry couldn’t have begun its defense of the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference title any better.
The Greyhounds opened up conference play and celebrated their Homecoming all in the same Friday night, and still found time to crush the visiting Atkins Camels 49-0 in front of a packed house in the team’s third home game of the 2018 season.
“It was our first conference game, and we did what we were supposed to do,” said North Surry head coach Danny Lyons. “After the Mount Airy game, I told them we’d start fresh for conference, and focus on doing what we do well. Our work paid off.”
Senior running back Ryan Smith ran for four first-half touchdowns and had a total of 184 yards rushing on 17 carries as the Greyhounds cruised to a 39-0 halftime lead. A 29-yard touchdown pass from Carson Hawks to Tanner Woods early in the second half created a running clock for the rest of the game.
North Surry (3-3, 1-0 WPAC) racked up a total of 350 yards, most of it on the ground, although it was also strong in the passing game when the need arose.
It didn’t take long for the Hounds to send a message to the Camels that this was going to be a long night. On North Surry’s first play from scrimmage, Smith broke through the line and exploded for a 55-yard touchdown. Ethan Evans split the uprights on the point-after, and North already had all of the points it was going to need to win on Homecoming night. But what would be the fun in that?
After stopping Atkins on its first offensive series, the North offense took the field and embarked on a seven-play drive into Camel territory, ending when Smith found the end zone again five minutes into the contest for a 13-0 lead.
The Hounds scored two more times before the opening period was done. North Surry turned an Atkins turnover into a 31-yard field-goal by Evans, and then stopped the Camels again, setting up Smith for his third TD, with about a minute remaining in the opening period.
North Surry already led 23-0, but wasn’t letting up on Atkins. The Camels managed to hold the ball for a while, but then the Hounds forced a punt and started barking again. This time, North gave Smith a break and quarterback Carson Hawks took to the air, hitting Nick Badgett for a 14-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter.
The Hounds scored again with less than a minute in the first half, with Smith bulldozing his way in from the Atkins 1-yard line. The Camels got pinned back in their own end zone on the following possession and North Surry ran off the field at intermission with a safety pinned on the scoreboard and a 39-0 halftime lead.
“Ryan has been banged up off and on all season, but he’s up close to a thousand yards and among the top rushers in the state,” Lyons said. “He’s getting his body in better shape. As we get everybody back, we’re getting some good continuity on offense.”
At halftime, the 2018 Homecoming Court was announced, with Camille Cartwright as the Maid of Honor and Sydni Coalson crowned as the Homecoming Queen.
The coaching staff left much of the starting lineup in the game to begin the second half, and the Hounds’ defense forced the Camels into a quick three-and-out to start the third quarter. Jordan Shelar fielded the punt and returned it all the way to the Atkins 10, but most of his runback was negated by a questionable personal-foul penalty. This moved the Hawks and the offense back to the 43, but it wasn’t a problem. After just a few plays, Hawks threw long for Woods, who sprinted into the end zone. Another PAT kick from Evans made it 46-0 with 9:09 left in the third, and left the clock running for the rest of the evening.
“We didn’t need to throw a lot, but Carson did a good job,” said Lyons of his quarterback, who completed four of six passes for 63 yards. “He made some nice throws.”
Early in the final period, Atkins fumbled a punt away at its own 8-yard line. Lyons declined to run up the score, and ran the ball up the middle three times in a row before summoning Evans for a 22-yard field goal with 8:02 left to play.
One highlight in the game for Hounds rooters came when 2017 WPAC Offensive Player of the Year Chase Swartz returned to action for a few series during the game. Swartz had been out for three weeks due to an injury that required surgery, but was cleared by doctors to play sparingly this week. He completed three of seven passes for 30 yards.
“He was a little nervous, and a little rusty,” Lyons said.
The Camels didn’t even get a first down until the Hounds had cleared the bench in the fourth quarter. North still made sure they didn’t get into the end zone.
“I was really pleased with the way our defense played,” Lyons said. “It was a total team effort by everyone.”
Chandler Hawks carried the ball 18 times for 72 yards, Badgett caught three passes for 28 yards. Defensively, Colten Sechrist intercepted a pass, while Evans scored 11 points on two field goals and five PAT’s. He barely missed another field-goal attempt from 55 yards out.
The Hounds will travel to Walkertown this coming Friday night for their second conference game. The Wolfpack lost their league opener at West Stokes this week.
“They’re a lot better this year than last,” said Lyons of Walkertown, which went winless a year ago. “They’ve lost to some good teams. We can’t go down there and sleepwalk if we want to win.”
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.