RONDA — It was a tale of two halves as Mount Airy defeated East Wilkes 45-6 on Monday night.
East Wilkes held the Bears to their fewest first-half points of any game this season (19). The Cardinals also became the only team this season to put points on the board against Mount Airy in the first half.
The Granite Bears rebounded in the second half, holding the Cardinals to just 58 yards of total offense and forcing three East Wilkes turnovers. Mount Airy’s offense scored on four of its five second half possessions without turning the ball over once.
Mount Airy (8-0, 4-0 NW1A) controls its own destiny in the Northwest 1A Conference. With Monday’s win, the Bears are the only team still undefeated in the conference. Only one team, Starmount, has just one conference loss. The Granite Bears can clinch a share of the conference title with a win over Elkin on Friday, or can win the title outright by winning their last two games or with a Starmount loss.
Both East Wilkes (4-5, 2-3 NW1A) and Mount Airy relied heavily on the run game on Monday. East Wilkes finished the night with 183 total yards, consisting of 67 yards passing and 116 yards rushing. Mount Airy finished with 372 total yards, consisting of 46 yards passing and 326 yards rushing.
The Bears had two players rush for 100+ yards: sophomore’s Tyler Mason and Caleb Reid. Reid racked up 124 yards and scored a touchdown all before the first quarter ended, going on to record nine carries for 133 yards. Mason took over in the second quarter and finished with 152 yards and four touchdowns on 11 carries. Quarterback Ian Gallimore added seven carries for 39 yards and a pair of touchdowns, as well as all 46 yards passing on 4-of-8 attempts.
Mount Airy started strong by scoring on just its second play from scrimmage. Reid started the game with an 18-yard rush, then followed with a 55-yard touchdown run. The Bears quickly regained possession by forcing a three-and-out, which featured Deric Dandy picking up Mount Airy’s first sack of the night.
Mount Airy moved into Cardinal territory after the punt, but a fumble by Mason was recovered by East’s Tristian Alkire. The Cardinals two biggest weapons on the ground during Monday’s game, Briggs Gentry and Brody Martin, moved the chains to put their team in the red zone late in the first quarter.
The Bears made two touchdown-saving tackles in the first half of Monday’s game. The first came on this drive when Gentry broke free for a 39-yard gain. A shoestring tackle from Zeb Stroup put East Wilkes at the Bears 7-yard line.
A tackle for a loss and sack from Camron Webster forced East Wilkes to settle for a field goal. Hank Porter split the uprights from 30 yards out to close the gap to 6-3.
Mount Airy’s next drive saw East Wilkes force third-and-10 after two Gallimore incompletions. The Bears called a timeout to draw up a play for third down, and it paid off. Mason ran 21 yards and Walker Stroup converted the PAT to make it 13-3.
East Wilkes kept the ball out of Mount Airy’s hands in the second quarter with a 13-play drive that chewed 7:40 off the game clock. Martin, who rushed 13 times for 38 yards and aded a 34 yards receiving, started the drive in Bears territory after returning a kickoff to the Mount Airy 45. The junior was finally dragged down by Mount Airy’s Blake Hawks.
Nic Isom forced third-and-10 by sacking Gentry, but a pass interference call on the Bears allowed East Wilkes’ possession to continue. The Cards made it all the way to the 4-yard line, but were stopped from reaching the end zone. Porter converted a 21-yard field goal to cut the lead to seven.
Mason had 45 yards rushing on the next Bears possession alone. Combining Mason’s carries and one from Reid, Mount Airy went 64 yards on four plays to go up 19-6.
East started its next drive with the longest passing play by either team all night. Gentry found Martin in the middle for a 34-yard gain. Martin broke free the very next play and ran 19 yards before Dandy, already on the ground, tripped up Martin and made the team’s second touchdown-saving tackle of the half.
East Wilkes ended up inside the 10-yard line once again, but a tackle by Zeb Stroup pushed the Cards back five yards. A short run from Weston Brown and an incomplete pass from Gentry put the Cardinals at fourth-and-goal on the 14 with six seconds left in the half. Bears coach J.K. Adkins iced Porter twice and it worked, as the field goal try sailed wide left.
The Bears tried to run a play with one second left on the clock, but it ended with East’s Kole Lambert sacking Gallimore.
The Cardinals looked to have momentum on their side entering the second half. However, East immediately faced a three-and-out after receiving the second-half kickoff.
Mount Airy took over near midfield and made it into Cardinal territory soon after. Once on East Wilkes’ defensive half, Gallimore completed a 19-yard pass to Stroup to get inside the red zone. A flag on East after the play moved the spot inside the 10-yard line, and Gallimore ran it in himself the very next play.
Things snowballed in the Bears favor from there. Gentry was picked off by Zeb Stroup just three plays into the next Cardinal drive, and Mason only needed one play to find the end zone and increase the lead to 32-6.
Gentry was sacked by Reece Deaton on the next drive, then nearly picked off by Hawks before the Cardinals punted away without a single first down in the third quarter. The East Wilkes defense did force three plays of negative yardage to get the ball back, but then Martin was intercepted again by Stroup.
Mason ran back-to-back plays to score his fourth touchdown of the night and increase the lead to 38-6 after a missed PAT.
The Granite Bears intercepted Martin a third time to set up their final touchdown of the game, with Payten Fonville picking off Gentry this time. Gallimore completed his longest pass of the evening to Mason for 22 yards, and a penalty on East Wilkes put the Bears in the red zone.
Gallimore called his own number for a 10-yard run with 6:12 remaining. Walker Stroup’s PAT made it 45-6.
East Wilkes used the remaining time to move into Mount Airy territory, but time expired before the Cardinals could add any more points.
Mount Airy has outscored opponents 401-18 this season, and no one opponent has scored more than six points on the Granite Bears. The Bears are also sixth in the state among all classifications with an average of 50.1 points per game.
Mount Airy hosts Elkin (3-4, 2-2 NW1A) on Friday before traveling to Alleghany (2-5, 1-3 NW1A) on Oct. 29.
East Wilkes is off this week, but will host Starmount (4-4, 3-1 NW1A) on Oct. 29.
Mount Airy – 6, 13,13, 13 = 45
East Wilkes – 3, 3, 0, 0 = 6
11:04 MAHS 0-6 – Caleb Reid 55-yard rushing TD, PAT no good
2:39 EWHS 3-6 – Hank Porter 30-yard field goal
11:30 MAHS 3-13 – Tyler Mason 21-yard rushing TD, Walker Stroup PAT
3:50 EWHS 6-13 – Hank Porter 21-yard field goal
1:22 MAHS 3-19 – Tyler Mason 4-yard rushing TD, PAT no good
6:10 MAHS 6-25 – Ian Gallimore 9-yard rushing TD, PAT no good
5:07 MAHS 6-32 – Tyler Mason 24-yard rushing TD, Walker Stroup PAT
8:20 MAHS 6-38 – Tyler Mason 29-yard rushing TD, PAT no good
6:12 MAHS 6-45 – Ian Gallimore 9-yard rushing TD, Walker Stroup PAT