“Off to Asheboro.”
Those were the exact words that one fan hollered to Mount Airy head football coach J.K. Adkins just minutes after the Granite Bears 49-0 win over Hayesville on Friday night at Wallace Shelton Stadium.
Asheboro (or Ramseur to be exact) happens to be the location of Eastern Randolph — Mount Airy’s fourth round opponent for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1A playoffs. The top-seeded Wildcats (11-1) held off Robbinsville, 29-26, in their third-round game.
That west regional semifinal game is slated for next Friday, which means the No. 4 Granite Bears will be practicing on Thanksgiving for the second year in a row.
Mount Airy, which won its 11th-straight game, improved to 12-1 this fall. Defensively, it has allowed just one touchdown in the last six games and just 21 points in the last nine.
“I’m proud of our guys, proud of their effort and hopefully we can take another step next week,” said Adkins. “I think we’re better (than we were at this point last year) and I didn’t think I’d be able to say that at this point in the year, but I think we’re a better football team all the way around — offensively, defensively and special teams.
“We’re extremely aggressive on both sides, our line play is better than it was and we’re winning some battles inside that are really paying dividends right now.”
Much like all season, Tyler Mason played a key role for Mount Airy on Friday.
The junior running back scored on his very first touch of the game — an 84-yard scamper on the Granite Bears’ third play from scrimmage.
Mason finished with a game-high 164 yards and four touchdowns on just a dozen carries. The junior received probably the ovation of the night late in the third quarter on a 27-yard rushing score.
Not only did the touchdown make it 42-0 Mount Airy to institute the NCHSAA-mandated running clock, but the junior scored his 38th rushing touchdown of the season
According to Mount Airy sports historian Doug McDaniel, Mason’s rushing score eclipsed the previous record held by Michael Dodson back in the Granite Bears’ state championship season in 2008. Dodson had 34 rushing touchdowns that season.
Mason now has 41 total touchdowns this fall (Dodson also held that previous record with 36).
“He had a big night and he’s just one of the athletes we have who are tremendous,” said Adkins. “We can get the ball out to different people in space, Tyler being one of them and Caleb (Reid) and Mario (Revels) and Walker (Stroup) — they’re some real weapons and that’s a luxury — so anytime you can do that, it really puts people in a bind.”
With the running clock, Mount Airy’s backups gained some valuable reps, and found the end zone with 5:43 left on a 21-yard rushing score from freshman Taeshon Martin.
Mason also forced a turnover when he intercepted Hayesville quarterback Logan Caldwell in the third quarter.
The Granite Bears came up empty on the ensuing drive as it fumbled in the red zone and the No. 12 Yellow Jackets recovered.
However, Mount Airy’s defense buckled down thanks to a pair of sacks from Ian Gallimore.
The Granite Bears held the Yellow Jackets, who didn’t get across midfield the entire game, to just eight yards of offense.
Taylor McClure, Hayesville’s leading rusher, was held to just six yards on 13 carries. The junior paced the visitor’s on defense with nine tackles.
Hayesville (7-6), which got as close as its own 49 on the final drive of the game, had its next best opportunity come in the opening quarter as they reached their own 44-yard line.
But Revels intercepted Caldwell to end the drive and returned it back to the Hayesville 35; the pick set up Mason’s second touchdown of the night.
Revels ultimately found the end zone when Gallimore found him, in stride, for a 75-yard touchdown to put the hosts up 27-0 just before halftime. Revels finished with three receptions for 93 yards.
“He’s a dynamic player, he’s a playmaker, he’s a warrior, a foxhole guy and someone you want to have go fight with,” Adkins said of the junior Revels. “I was really proud him and it was good to see him do some things tonight.”
Caleb Reid, who served as the primary back for the Granite Bears in the second half, tacked on a 24-yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the third quarter.
The junior joined Mason in triple-digit rushing with 111 yards. Gallimore added 109 yards through the air.
Notes: According to McDaniel, this year’s team has scored the third-most points in a season with 687 (only the 2008 and 2009 teams have more and they played 16 games each) and has averaged 52.8 points a game. This year’s Granite Bears are only 30 points away (and three fewer games) from moving into second place. The 2008 squad led the nation in scoring with 846 points (52.9 points a game). With his performance, Mason has now rushed for 3,036 yards in his career. Asher Brown had one of Hayesville’s few highlights on Friday when he intercepted Gallimore midway through the second quarter; Kyle Lunsford had another with a fumble recovery.
#4 MOUNT AIRY 49, #12 HAYESVILLE 0
Hayesville 0 0 0 0 — 0
Mount Airy 7 20 15 7 — 49
MA — Tyler Mason 84-yard run (Walker Stroup kick) 7:03
MA — Mason 7-yard run (Stroup kick) 10:17
MA— Mason 10-yard run (Stroup kick) 9:01
MA — Mario Revels 75-yard pass from Ian Gallimore (kick fail) 1:00
MA — Caleb Reid 24-yard run (Reid run) 10:10
MA — Mason 27-yard run (Stroup kick) 2:46
MA — Taeshon Martin 21-yard run (Anthony Valadez kick) 5:43
Rushing: Kyle Lunsford 2-15; Michael Mauney 1-7; Taylor McClure 13-6; Dawson Devane 2-3; Tre Graves 3-2; Avery Leatherwood 1-(-5); Logan Caldwell 7-(-49).
Passing: Logan Caldwell 5-13-2 for 29 yards.
Receiving: Avery Leatherwood 3-15; Taylor McClure 4-13; Kyle Lunsford 2-1.
Rushing: Tyler Masion 12-164 and 4 TD; Caleb Reid 25-111 and 1 TD; Taeshon Martin 6-57 and 1 TD; Nas Lemon 1-18; Ian Gallimore 2-2.
Passing: Ian Larrimore 4-8-1 for 106 yards and 1 TD.
Receiving: Mario Revels 3-93 and 1 TD; Walker Stroup 1-13.