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Second-half shutout lifts Bears over Rams

Mount Airy took sole possession of the Northwest 1A Conference’s top spot with a 43-7 victory over Starmount on Sept. 29.

Moved up a night to avoid the impact of Hurricane Ian, Thursday’s game seemed to have all the ingredients of a defensive battle through the first half. Two teams that averaged more than 33 points per game heading into Thursday – the Granite Bears 46.5 and the Rams 33.4 – combined for just three touchdowns in an opening half that featured two turnovers-on-downs and six punts.

A few touchdowns that were called back due to penalty flags kept the home Bears from running away with a lead in the third quarter, but Mount Airy’s offense was too much to contain in the fourth. A 21-point final quarter lifted Mount Airy to its third NW1A victory.

Neither side was particularly thrilled with the number of offensive penalties called in the game. Each team was flagged nine times total, and seven of those for each team were called on the offense.

Mount Airy had three touchdowns and more than 150 yards called back due to penalties.

The Granite Bears still managed to find the end zone six times and make one field goal in Thursday’s win. Tyler Mason accounted three of those touchdowns to go with his 214 yards rushing.

The junior running back, who surpassed 1,000 yards rushing for the season on Thursday, recorded his third game of the season of at least 200 yards rushing and his seventh scoring multiple touchdowns.

The Rams and Bears each relied on their ground game in the NW1A battle. Starmount finished with 172 total yards, and 170 were rushing. Mount Airy, meanwhile, rushed for 311 of its 425 total yards.

Neither side could break through the opposing defense in the early going. Through the first 11 minutes of the first quarter, the only play of more than 4 yards from scrimmage – for either team – was an 11-yard Ian Gallimore pass to Walker Stroup. Mount Airy’s Third Floyd and Cam’Ron Webster made big stops for the Bears’ defensive line, while Starmount’s Cole Longworth and Caden Abernethy did the same for the Rams.

Mason broke free for the first big play of the game when he scored a 47-yard touchdown with 16 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Starmount’s Zack Dezern, who led the Rams with 104 yards rushing on 16 carries, retaliated by scoring an 80-yard touchdown run before the end of the first quarter.

Neither offense could make it to the red zone again until the final seconds of the second quarter. Starmount went for a fourth-and-2 on Mount Airy’s 40-yard line, but Dezern was stopped by the Bears’ Connor Burrell at the line of scrimmage. Gallimore made two big completions to Walker Stroup – the latter of which was made in double coverage – to put Mount Airy on the Ram 2-yard line with 21 seconds remaining in the half.

Mason plugged in the 2-yard run, but it was called back due to a hold. Gallimore then found Mario Revels for a 10-yard gain and the Bears called timeout with two seconds on the clock. Gallimore and Revels worked their magic again on the next play to give the home team a 16-7 lead at the half.

Gallimore’s mark of 114 yards passing against Starmount is his highest of the 2022 season.

AJ Pardue recovered a Mason fumble on Mount Airy’s opening drive of the second half, but the Rams weren’t able to move the chains. In fact, Starmount started the second half with five three-and-outs. The Bears’ Caleb Reid, Deric Dandy and Caden Joyce all picked up sacks in the half, while Webster and Landon Cox added tackles for a loss.

After the fumble, Mount Airy punted on its next offensive possession after a 60-yard Mason touchdown run was called back. The Bears made another defensive stop and scored on a 39-yard Mason run, which was the first of four-consecutive scoring drives for Mount Airy.

Starmount finally got its initial first down of the second half on the game’s final drive, which came with less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

In addition to Dezern’s 104 yards rushing, Pardue carried 11 times for 25 yards and Preston Williams rushed eight times for 43 yards. Luke Kimmer completed the Rams’ only pass, a 2-yard gain, to Ryan Kimmer.

Gallimore completed 7-of-14 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. Stroup had three catches for 78 yards, and Revels made four catches for 36 yards and a touchdown.

Mason led all rushers with 16 carries for 214 yards and three touchdowns. Gallimore added 10 carries for 15 yards, Reid had five carries for 30 yards and a touchdown, Traven Thompson rushed twice for 43 yards, Taeshon Martin ran once for 7 yards, Landon Gallimore had one carry for 4 yards and Nas Lemon rushed once for -2 yards.

Mount Airy (6-1 overall) sits atop the NW1A standings with a 3-0 record. East Wilkes is 2-1, with its only loss coming against the Bears during Week 5. Elkin, Starmount and Alleghany are next at 1-1, followed by South Stokes 1-2 and North Stokes at 0-3.

Mount Airy travels to North Stokes on Oct. 7, while Starmount will host Elkin. Mount Airy’s game will be held at West Stokes High School due to construction at North Stokes.


Starmount – 7, 0, 0, 0 = 7

Mount Airy – 10, 6, 7, 21 = 43


5:52 MAHS 3-0 – Walker Stroup 26-yard field goal

0:16 MAHS 10-0 – Tyler Mason 47-yard rushing TD, Walker Stroup PAT

0:00 STAR 10-7 –Zack Dezern 80-yard rushing TD, Alex Mora PAT


0:00 MAHS 16-7 – Mario Revels 5-yard TD reception on Ian Gallimore pass, 2-point conversion no good


3:50 MAHS 22-7 – Tyler Mason 39-yard rushing TD, 2-point conversion no good


11:25 MAHS 29-7 – Caleb Reid 8-yard rushing TD, Walker Stroup PAT

8:54 MAHS 36-7 – Tyler Mason 36-yard rushing TD, Walker Stroup PAT

4:59 MAHS 43-7 – Tyler Mason 36-yard rushing TD, Walker Stroup PAT



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