PILOT MOUNTAIN — Week four in high school football hosted a must-win situation for two teams Friday. East Surry entered the game 1-2 and looked to atone for a close loss to North Surry last week. Surry Central has lost all three contests this year and needed a win to get back on track. Both teams scratched and clawed for a W, so much so that it took more than four quarters of action to decide the game in the Cardinals’ favor, 54-48.
East Surry didn’t begin the game exactly how it planned to. The Cardinals had a three-and-out after receiving the opening kickoff. When the ball was hiked to Jefferson Boaz, it soared clear over his 6’5” frame. The Golden Eagles were awarded golden field position right off the bat, but struggled to move the pigskin further. Flags for a false start and illegal procedure hindered the Eagles’ progress and was capped off with a Cardinal sack on third down. Martin Palacios sent a field goal between the uprights to get Central on the board with 8:58 remaining in the first quarter.
Cardinal tailback Joey Ray took over for East Surry with two big runs to start its second drive. Ray knew he was going to make it into Eagle territory, and was willing to drag defenders with him. He put the Cardinals in the lead with a four-yard run at the 6:39 mark. A failed PAT resulted in a 6-3 Cardinal lead.
East Surry looked optimistic when they forced a three-and-out on the Eagles. That optimism soon faded when Surry Central’s Alex Rodriguez intercepted Boaz’s pass on the first play of the drive. The Eagles struggled once again to get deep into the red zone and settled for another field goal to tie the game 6-6.
The home team came into the second quarter determined and it definitely showed on the scoreboard. East Surry dictated the pace of the game with strong play on the ground, but actually scored a passing touchdown with 9:38 on the clock. Boaz completed a pass to Stephen Gosnell to put the Cards up 14-6.
East’s defense halted any momentum by Surry Central and gave the ball back to the Cardinal offense. Boaz was tossing bombs to his receiving core, throwing two more passing touchdowns to Quincy Smith to extend the lead to 27-6.
Just when hope seemed lost for the visiting Eagles, Palacios took over. The senior was a renaissance man for Surry Central, passing, catching, and kicking for his team. Palacios marched his team down the field with little time on the clock and ran the ball into the end zone on a quarterback keeper. Then he caught a circus pass from Maisen Holt for another score, making it a one-possession game by halftime.
Evidently, no one told Palacios that the second quarter ended and the third was beginning, because he picked up right where he left off. Palacios ran the ball straight to the end zone on a huge run to tie the game at 27 just 22 seconds into the second half. But Ray was not about to be upstaged on his home field and responded in a big way. The senior scored just three minutes later on a touchdown run, putting East in front again, 34-27.
The majority of the third quarter revolved around the Golden Eagles’ next drive. Palacios and Ryan Martin marched the Eagles down the field one play at a time. The Cardinal defense did well to prevent any big runs, but just couldn’t stop Palacios from moving the chains. Palacios finally exploded for a 30-yard run to put his team in prime scoring position. Martin charged into the end zone to tie the game 34-34.
East Surry had their go at a slow drive that began in the third quarter and ended with a touchdown from Stephen Creech, giving the Cards a 41-34 lead. Then Central fought to even up the score, even converting on a fake punt on fourth down, but were halted by Austin Pardue when he intercepted a pass with 7:44 to go.
East Surry opted to attempt passes rather than run the clock down on the ground, and had to punt the ball with little over a minute removed. The Eagles played with a better sense of urgency and tied the game at 41 off a phenomenal 72-yard run from Palacios.
The Central defense halted a Cardinal drive almost immediately to regain possession on their own 5-yard line. The majority of the remaining regulation time was spent by the Eagles gradually moving the chains. Surry Central was finally stopped with 12 seconds left and was forced to attempt a 44-yard field goal. The ball failed to split the uprights and a Cardinal kneel signified overtime.
The first OT flew by. Joey Ray ran the ball in for East Surry on their first play and Martin reacted by scoring on the Eagles’ second play.
Surry Central had possession first in the second OT and were forced into a fourth down situation that ended with the Cardinal D keeping the end zone clean. East Surry seemed rattled on its next drive. A fumble and delay of game call resulted in a Cardinal timeout.
Then Mitchell Edwards proved to be the hero that ended this back-and-forth contest with a touchdown run to end the game, 54-48.
Both teams showed good and bad throughout, but ultimately East Surry walked away with its second win of the season.
The Cardinals will travel to West Stokes next week to try to pick up another win. Surry Central falls to 0-4 and will have a bye next week to regroup.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith