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‘It’s only the beginning’

North Surry started strong and never let up during Friday’s Foothills 2A Conference opener against Wilkes Central.

The Greyhounds’ offense put up a record-setting performance, while the defense forced five turnovers-on-downs, one three-and-out and a takeaway.

North Surry moved to 1-0 in the FH2A Conference – and is technically tied for the conference’s top spot as pointed out by PA announcer Eric Jessup – thanks to the 47-21 victory.

“This is really big for us,” said North Surry coach Jackson Smith. “We felt like we didn’t play our best brand of football in the second half last week. We challenged the kids to wash it, learn from it and come back stronger – and I think we did that. We still have a lot of room for growth and have a few things we need to clean up, but this is a big step for us.

“It’s only the beginning.”

On a night full of highlights, the biggest spotlight was earned by senior running back Jake Simmons and the Greyhounds’ offensive line. Simmons rushed 32 times for 234 yards and a school record five touchdowns.

“I can’t describe how excited I am for Jake,” Smith said. “He’s done everything and beyond for our program the past four years. There is no one more deserving of this than him. I hope I can give him a lot more nights like tonight.”

Leading the charge in the trenches was the quintet of left tackle Anthony Williams, left guard Ty Gwyn, center Eli Ramey, right guard Braxton Montgomery and right tackle Aiden Martin.

“Jake’s a phenomenal player that had a phenomenal night, but that doesn’t happen without those five guys up front,” Smith said. “Coach (Danny) Lyons had those guys dialed in,” Smith said. “We wanted our offensive staple to be running the football: establishing the run game, winning the trenches, moving the line of scrimmage and then that helps open up the back end and the perimeter for taking some shots.

“I thought we had a pretty good balance tonight, and I’m looking forward to building on that.”

The Greyhounds’ success on the ground was the biggest offensive takeaway, but the Hounds (2-3, 1-0 FH2A) actually scored their first two touchdowns in the air.

Quarterback Kam McKnight, who completed 5-of-10 passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns, connected with Isaac Webb for a 17-yard strike in the first quarter. Webb put the brakes on and sent a defender flying before waltzing into the end zone.

McKnight then found Fisher Leftwich for a 13-yard score at the beginning of the second quarter to increase the home team’s lead to 13-0. Simmons scored his first rushing touchdown of the night later in the second quarter.

North Surry opened the game by punting, then scored on each of its next six drives.

The Greyhound defense complimented the offense by holding the visiting Eagles scoreless through two quarters. Wilkes Central (2-3, 0-1 FH2A) went three-and-out on its first drive, then turned the ball over on downs on each of its next three drives.

Wilkes Central’s first drive ended in their own territory after a fourth down stop by David Schuyler and Garrett Shore. The Eagles converted once on fourth down during their second drive, but stalled out at the Hounds’ 35 after North’s secondary forced back-to-back incompletions.

Next came what Smith called, “one of the biggest moments of true resilience shown by this team.”

A big run by Wilkes Central put the visitors in the red zone with 1:10 remaining in the half. Central’s Jaylen Thompson was headed for the end zone on the run before being dragged down by Owen McMillian and Landon Thomas, then Eric Cabrera brought Thompson down on the 3-yard line the next play.

Wilkes Central quarterback Noah McNeil called his own number on first-and-goal, but was halted at the 1-yard line by the North Surry defensive line. McNeil ran for no gain on second down, leading to Wilkes Central’s final timeout of the half being called with 19.7 seconds on the clock.

Marlin Owens got the carry on third down and attempted to score on the outside. A battle broke out at the goal line, and when the dust settled Owens was called short as time expired.

“I love that the defense got to have that moment,” Smith said. “They’ve got so much potential, and that right there is proof of just how good they can be. They’re getting better and better each week.”

Wilkes Central finally got on the board with its first drive of the second half, but couldn’t slow down North Surry’s offense.

Simmons ran for four consecutive plays on North’s first drive of the third quarter. Just when Wilkes Central tried to load the box, McKnight found Schuyler for a big gain to put North on the Central 15-yard line. Simmons then dragged defenders into the end zone for his second of five scores.

North Surry’s defense forced another turnover on downs in the red zone, then North’s offense went 91 yards in just seven plays to increase the lead to 33-7.

The teams traded scores on their next three possessions, with North Surry going up 40-21, then Wilkes Central forced North to go three-and-out for the first time Friday night. North punted for the first time since its opening drive.

Wilkes Central had a chance to cut it to a two-score game after the three-and-out, but Schuyler intercepted McNeil on the second play of the drive. Schuyler returned the interception more than 40 yards to the Eagles 7-yard line, then Simmons scored his fifth touchdown of the night two plays later.

The game ended in victory formation after North’s defense forced a fifth turnover-on-downs.

“That’s a big step for us defensively,” Smith said. “Like I said, we have a lot we want to fix or keep improving on defensively, but from last week to this week we made a lot of growth. I challenged the staff and these kids after West Stokes to change the mindset of our defense and to start creating a better culture there, and they did that.

“Overall, we really wanted to come in fresh-minded and I thought the kids’ preparation all week was great. I’m proud of our coaching staff for the phenomenal job they did getting these kids ready to compete.”

Wilkes Central won the total yardage battle 417-369, but key stops by North Surry kept the visitors from ever leading.

The Eagles recorded 200 of its 417 total yards in the fourth quarter: 147 of 218 yards passing, and 53 of 199 yards rushing. Wilkes Central’s 147 yards passing in the fourth quarter resulted from two completions of 66 and 81 yards.

North Surry, West Wilkes and Surry Central each won their conference openers. West Wilkes defeated Forbush, North Surry’s opponent next week, 20-14, and Surry Central defeated North Wilkes 28-24.

Two-time defending FH2A Champion East Surry had a bye this week.

Scoring

North Surry – 7, 14, 7, 19 = 47

Wilkes Central – 0, 0, 7, 14 = 21

1Q

4:29 NS 7-0 – Isaac Webb 17-yard TD reception on Kam McKnight pass, Jovani Flores PAT

2Q

10:35 NS 13-0 – Fisher Leftwich 13-yard TD reception on Kam McKnight pass, PAT no good

1:44 NS 21-0 – Jake Simmons 13-yard TD run, Fisher Leftwich 2-point conversion rush

3Q

9:31 WC 21-7 – Noah McNeil 27-yard TD run, Hunter Wyles PAT

6:10 NS 27-7 – Jake Simmons 15-yard TD run, PAT no good

4Q

9:37 NS 33-7 – Jake Simmons 23-yard TD run, failed 2-point conversion

9:06 WC 33-14 – Marlin Owens 2-yard TD run, Hunter Wyles PAT

6:42 NS 40-14 – Jake Simmons 14-yard TD run, Jovani Flores PAT

6:23 WC 40-21 – Hunter Wyles 81-yard TD reception on Noah McNeil pass, Hunter Wyles PAT

3:15 NS 47-14 – Jake Simmons 5-yard TD run, Jovani Flores PAT

Offensive Stats

North Surry

TEAM

111 yards passing on five completions, two touchdowns

258 yards rushing on 36 carries, five touchdowns, one 2-point conversion

369 total yards

INDIVIDUAL

Passing: Kam McKnight 5-of-10 for 111 yards, two touchdowns

Receiving: Isaac Webb two receptions for 45 yards, one touchdown; Fisher Leftwich two catches for 41 yards, one touchdown; David Schuyler one reception for 25 yards

Rushing: Jake Simmons 32 carries for 234 yards, five touchdowns, Kam McKnight four carries for 24 yards; Fisher Leftwich one 2-point conversion

Kicking: Jovani Flores 3-of-5 PATs

Wilkes Central

TEAM

218 yards passing on 5-of-14 completions, one touchdown, one interception

199 yards rushing on 34 carries, one touchdown

417 total yards

INDIVIDUAL

Passing: Noah McNeil 5-of-14 for 218 yards, one touchdown, one interception

Receiving: Brady Glenn Scott three receptions for 111 yards; Hunter Wyles one reception for 81 yards, one touchdown; Jaylen Thompson one reception for 27 yards

Rushing: Jaylen Thompson six carries for 79 yards; Noah McNeil eight carries for 42 yards; Jy’lik Shuford three carries for 29 yards; Marlin Owens 10 carries for 21 yards, one touchdown; Hunter Wyles four carries for 16 yards; Brandon Rosales three carries for 12 yards

Kicking: Hunter Wyles 3-of-3 PATs

Source


Source: https://www.mtairynews.com

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