Bears strike early and hard

By John Cate - jcate@mtairynews.com
Johnathon Smith (6, with ball) and Greg Greene (5) both played major offensive roles in the Granite Bears’ win over South Stokes on Friday night. - John Cate | The News
South Stokes’ senior Garrett Dodson tries to run down Mount Airy running back Johnathon Smith during Friday night’s game. - John Cate | The News
South Stokes' Adam McMillian runs out of a pile-up while looking for yardage in Friday night's game at Mount Airy. - John Cate | The News
The Sauras' Richard Epperson tries to turn the corner against the Mount Airy defense. - - John Cate | The News
Mount Airy defenders Rayquan Brown (71) and Ralph Cassese (72) close ranks on South Stokes running back Adam McMillian in the backfield on Friday night. - - John Cate | The News

After just 19 seconds, it was clear what sort of night this was going to be.

Johnathon Smith of Mount Airy romped 31 yards into the end zone on the third-ranked Granite Bears’ second play from scrimmage Friday night, starting off what was a tremendous first half both for him and his team. The team went on to score on all eight of its first-half possessions and cruised to a 57-7 rout of South Stokes.

The Bears (8-0, 2-0 Northwest 1A Conference) scored four touchdowns in each of the first two quarters and held a 57-0 halftime lead. It would have been possible for Mount Airy to set a new school record by topping the 60-point mark for a third consecutive game, but head coach J.K. Adkins chose to clear the bench in a second half played with a running clock.

The Sauras scored on a 27-yard touchdown pass with about seven minutes left in the game to avert the shutout.

South Stokes (1-7, 1-1 NW1A) won the pregame coin toss, but almost nothing went right for the Sauras between that point and when they finally got on the board. The team attempted an onside kick to open the game, but the Bears’ Eric Olvera fell on the ball at his team’s 37-yard line. Following a penalty on the Sauras, Holden Poindexter completed a pass to Greg Greene that went for a 27-yard gain, and then Smith scored on the next play, with the game clock showing 11:41. Bear kicker Jackson Tumbarello, who was named as the winner of last week’s “Granite Strong Award” prior to kickoff, kicked the point-after in a game where he had some fun of his own later on.

South Stokes was facing third down on its opening series when Donavon Greene intercepted a Paul Thomas Fischer pass and returned it 22 yards to the Sauras’ 7. Mount Airy’s offense ran out onto the field and Poindexter hit Donavon on an inside slant for the touchdown. Poindexter threw to him again for a two-point conversion, and the score was 15-0 after just 78 seconds of action.

The visitors had a quick three-and-out, and Mount Airy began its third possession of the game at its’ 40. Runs by Jaedon Hill and Donavon Greene gave the Bears a first down at the Sauras’ 44. Two plays later, Smith picked up 10 to the 34, and then Poindexter went long for Donavon again, who made a leaping catch over a defender for a first down at the 13. Smith got the call on a sweep to the right, and Mount Airy led 22-0 with 6:24 remaining in the first.

The next two series were more of the same. A three-and-out for the Sauras was followed by a two-play, 64-yard scoring drive by the Bears. Hill picked up 10 yards and then Poindexter linked up with Greg Greene on a 54-yard catch-and-run play that made the score 29-0 at the 3:17 mark of the opening period.

South Stokes did better on the next series, actually picking up two first downs. The second came on the opening play of the second quarter, where the Sauras lined up to punt on fourth down, but snapped the ball short to Garrett Dodson, who ran for a first down at the South 40-yard line. Unfortunately for them, Donavon Greene blew up the next play, catching Javon Gore for a 10-yard loss and eventually forcing the Sauras to punt again.

Mount Airy went 65 yards in two plays, a 19-yard run by Smith followed by Donavon Greene getting behind everyone on a fly pattern and hauling in a 46-yard touchdown pass with 8:14 left in the first half.

The Bears’ Cole Shelton dumped Fischer on a third-down play and South Stokes had to punt again. Greg Greene fielded it and had a 27-yard return down to the Sauras’ 24-yard line.

Smith romped into the end zone on the next play, and it was 43-0 with 5:35 to play in the first half.

Following the touchdown, Tumbarello did something that might have had him running laps in practice this week if it hadn’t worked out. The junior had gotten a touchback on every kickoff he’d done to this point, once even kicking the ball through the uprights. But this time, he kicked the ball short and allowed Gore to field it at the Sauras’ 12. Gore was all the way to the 40 before the Bears’ coverage team stopped him and stripped the ball, where the home team recovered it.

Tumbarello, the anchor of the defense on Mount Airy’s fourth-ranked men’s soccer team, joked that kicking it short was the only way he’d ever get a chance to tackle someone. Later on in the second quarter, the radio crew from WPAQ said that his kicking was some of the most entertaining action in the first half.

In any case, the offense took the field again, Greg Greene hauled in a 12-yard pass, and then Hill rumbled all the way to the 2. He got the ball again on the next play and scored to make it 50-0 with 4:17 to play before halftime.

Another Saura punt led to a 45-yard touchdown run by Kaulin Smith with about a minute left before intermission. Tumbarello put one more extra-point through the uprights to make it 57-0 at the break.

The Bears, who have scored 180 points in their last three games, will celebrate Homecoming next Friday night, when Winston-Salem Prep comes to Wallace Shelton Stadium. The Phoenix (3-5, 0-2) were East Surry’s Homecoming victims this week, losing 70-6 after opening conference play with a one-point loss to the Sauras.

Johnathon Smith (6, with ball) and Greg Greene (5) both played major offensive roles in the Granite Bears’ win over South Stokes on Friday night.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_DSC_0606.jpgJohnathon Smith (6, with ball) and Greg Greene (5) both played major offensive roles in the Granite Bears’ win over South Stokes on Friday night. John Cate | The News

South Stokes’ senior Garrett Dodson tries to run down Mount Airy running back Johnathon Smith during Friday night’s game.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_DSC_0622.jpgSouth Stokes’ senior Garrett Dodson tries to run down Mount Airy running back Johnathon Smith during Friday night’s game. John Cate | The News

South Stokes’ Adam McMillian runs out of a pile-up while looking for yardage in Friday night’s game at Mount Airy.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_DSC_0623.jpgSouth Stokes’ Adam McMillian runs out of a pile-up while looking for yardage in Friday night’s game at Mount Airy.John Cate | The News

The Sauras’ Richard Epperson tries to turn the corner against the Mount Airy defense.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_DSC_0657.jpgThe Sauras’ Richard Epperson tries to turn the corner against the Mount Airy defense.John Cate | The News

Mount Airy defenders Rayquan Brown (71) and Ralph Cassese (72) close ranks on South Stokes running back Adam McMillian in the backfield on Friday night.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_DSC_0624.jpgMount Airy defenders Rayquan Brown (71) and Ralph Cassese (72) close ranks on South Stokes running back Adam McMillian in the backfield on Friday night. John Cate | The News
Eight TD’s in first half lead to 57-7 rout of S. Stokes

By John Cate

jcate@mtairynews.com

Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.

Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.