HAYS — Surry Central started 1-0 in the Foothills 2A Conference thanks to a comeback victory over North Wilkes on Sept. 15.
The Golden Eagles trailed by two scores at halftime before shutting out the Vikings through the final two quarters. The comeback was steady, but it was Allen Huffman’s second rushing touchdown of the evening that put the Eagles ahead for the first time since the second quarter.
Huffman’s touchdown came with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, then Central’s defense made a red zone stop to seal the 28-24 victory.
“I’m proud of the kids,” said Surry Central coach Monty Southern. “We won at Elkin last week and now at North Wilkes, and last year we didn’t win on the road at all. I’m glad this group was able to be away and be behind, have to show some guts and moxie, and make some plays.
“Our hope is that these experiences will be one of those things that will pay off down the road.”
Surry Central’s offense found itself it good field position early in the game, starting its first two drives in North Wilkes territory, but struggled to capitalize. Central (2-3, 1-0 FH2A) turned the ball over on each of its first two drives.
The Golden Eagle defense held the Vikings scoreless in the opening quarter. The Eagles were finally able to finish a drive with points early in the second quarter as Huffman ran in a 35-yard touchdown. Edinson Gonzalez nailed his first of four PATs to make it 7-0 for the visitors.
Huffman finished the night with 105 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 14 carries. The junior now has three games this season rushing for at least 100 yards.
It wasn’t long after that North Wilkes (0-5, 0-1 FH2A) got on the board and took the lead after a successful 2-point conversion. The lead was short-lived, however, as Central’s Brian Williams returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown.
Williams initially dropped the kickoff, but picked it up and ran 74 yards untouched.
The lead changed hands once again as North Wilkes scored its second touchdown, then a defensive stop by North set the home team up for another score and 2-point conversion before halftime
The Vikings led 24-14 at the break.
Central’s passing game had its highs and lows against North Wilkes. Quarterback Mason Jewell threw three interceptions in a game for just the second time in his career, but came up big when he needed to.
Jewell finished the night 7-of-15 passing for 159 yards and one touchdown. The junior averaged 22.5 yards per completion.
Jewell’s biggest completion of the night was a 59-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Inman in the third quarter, which cut the lead to 24-21. Inman caught three passes for 114 yards in the victory.
Central would turn the ball over for the third time, but the team’s defense remained rock solid and kept North Wilkes out of the end zone.
“The defense really stepped up and was lights out in the second half,” Southern said.
The coach pointed to two specific game-changing moments by Central’s defense that kept the team in the fight, and one followed Jewell’s second-half interception. North Wilkes took over inside the Eagles 30-yard line, but failed to put any points on the board.
The other game-changing moment saw Central make multiple goal line stops on one drive.
North Wilkes broke free for a 30-yard rush and seemed destined for the end zone, but a late tackle by Central put the Vikings on the 2. North Wilkes was tackled for a loss on first-and-goal, ran for no gain on second down, made it to the 1-yard line on third down then was stuffed on fourth down.
“Wyatt Wall timed it perfectly on that fourth down and got him for like a 2-yard loss,” Southern said.
Huffman got the handoff on Central’s first play from scrimmage after the turnover-on-downs.
“At first, it looked like he wasn’t going to make it very far with all the bodies piled in there,” Southern said. “But then he broke five or six tackles and ran to probably the 30-yard line. It was incredible. During that play you could audibly hear our kids on the sideline get more life in them.
“From that point on I felt like we were clearly the better team and had momentum on our side. It definitely wasn’t easy, though.”
Central finished Friday’s game with 331 total yards: 172 rushing and 159 passing.
Inman led all receivers with 114 yards and was the only Golden Eagle with multiple receptions. He was followed by Williams with 24 yards receiving, Landon Pack with 9 yards, Huffman with 8 yards and Saul Oakley with 4.
Huffman led Surry Central with 105 yards rushing and recorded 14 of the team’s 30 total carries. Williams was the team’s second-leading rusher with eight carries for 43 yards, and he was followed by Jewell with four carries for 15 yards, Oakley with three carries for 8 yards and Alex Huffman with one carry for 1 yard.
Surry Central enters its bye week at the mid-point of the regular season. Southern said the open week came at a great time as it will allow the Eagles to heal up from some nagging injuries, as well as give them time to fill the spots of players that will be on the shelf for multiple weeks at least.
Central returns to action on Sept. 29 and will travel to West Wilkes (2-3, 1-0 FH2A).
Surry Central – 0, 14, 7, 7 = 28
Elkin – 0, 24, 0, 0 = 24