PILOT MOUNTAIN — It’s been a rollercoaster of a season for the East Surry Cardinals football team. Lucky for them, it seems to be trending up once again with a 48-0 win over South Stokes that marks the Cards’ longest winning streak of the season.
The victory gives East Surry its third win in a row. The Cardinals have outscored opponents 169-20 during the winning streak, and didn’t waste any time against the Sauras.
South Stokes received the opening kickoff and went to work on the ground. Adam McMillian was the workhorse for the Sauras’ rushing game. However, McMillian had little success penetrating the Cardinals’ defense and the Sauras punted the ball to East Surry.
Stephen Gosnell went under center, but took little time to establish the Cardinals rushing game. Paired with Joey Ray, the duo moved the chains seemingly at will. With no way to contain the Cards, South Stokes gave up the first score of the game to Ray, who ran the ball in with 8:04 remaining in the first quarter.
Down 7-0, South Stokes was immediately thrust into good field position. A return to their own 35 followed up by a personal foul on the Cardinals gave the Sauras the ball at midfield. The first run of the drive popped out of the back’s hands and was dove on by East Surry’s Trevor Hauser, but possession was returned to South Stokes when the referees called the runner down.
McMillian moved the ball to the Cardinals’ 39 on his next run. Quarterback Austin Lilly elected to throw on first down, targeting a receiver in the red zone. East Surry’s Austin Pardue had other intentions, intercepting the ball.
The Cardinals’ possession would be short-lived. Joey Ray and Gosnell both made runs up the middle, but had trouble advancing the ball. Gosnell was sacked on third down, resulting in the Cards’ first punt of the evening.
South Stokes experienced the same limitations as East Surry when trying to move the ball on the ground. On third down, a hand-off to McMillian was shut down by East Surry’s Gunnar Jones.
East Surry took control deep in its own territory, but wouldn’t stay there for very long. Gosnell completed his first pass of the evening to Nic Hicks. Hicks was initially awarded a first down, but the spot was changed and the senior was called just short of the marker. A run by Joey Ray and a short pass to Hicks ended the quarter with East Surry entering Saura territory.
The first play of the second quarter would be a sign of things to come. Gosnell completed a 47-yard pass to Pardue with only eight seconds off the clock, putting the Cardinals up 14-0.
The Sauras kept the ball on the ground for three straight plays before coming up a yard short of a first down. South Stokes tried a fake punt on fourth down, but McMillian bobbled the snap and was taken down by East Surry.
It only took two plays for the Cardinals to extend their lead after taking over on the South Stokes 31-yard line. Joey Ray ran on both plays, making a 27-yard touchdown run on the second.
The Cardinal special teams squad helped the Sauras once again with a dead ball foul that put South Stokes on its own 45. However, the Sauras failed to gain 10 yards and had to punt once again.
Another two-play drive for East Surry ended in a touchdown. Logan Ray’s 45-yard run set up Gosnell for a 32-yard touchdown run. Having only scored seven points in the first 12 minutes of play, East Surry scored 21 points in the first five minutes of the second quarter.
The scoring barrage would continue for the Cardinals, this time on defense. A big hit by Mitchell Edwards kept the Sauras in the backfield on back-to-back plays. When the visitors attempted to punt from deep in their own territory, Gosnell blocked the punt and ran it into the end zone.
Desperate to get on the board and down 35-0, South Stokes nearly scored on the kickoff return. Paul Thomas Fischer ran up the visitors’ sideline before being tackled by East Surry kicker Ryan Sutterby. The return would be the high point of the Sauras’ possession, as the team punted after yet another three-and-out.
The visitors regained possession by recovering an East Surry fumble. Time ran off the clock before the Sauras could mount an offensive strike.
East Surry received the second half kickoff and set up another quick scoring drive. Gosnell completed a pass to Stephen Creech before taking the ball 38 yards himself for a touchdown.
Up 42-0, Logan Ray forced a fumble that was recovered by Jefferson Boaz. Already in good field position, Gosnell scored the Cardinals’ final touchdown of the game with a pass to Hicks. The PAT came up just short, leaving the Cardinals’ lead at 48-0.
East Surry benefited from a running clock and Coach David Diamont started to clear his bench. Alex Goins and Rommie Speaks ran the ball for East Surry while Zach Slate and Brandon Clark were in charge of the rushing game for South Stokes. The Sauras nearly made a threatening trip to the red zone, but Lilly was chased down by a flying bus in Boaz and was forced to throw the ball away.
The teams’ traded possessions, but the score would remain the same until the final whistle.
East Surry advances to 7-3, 4-0 in the Northwest 1A Conference. The Cardinals will host rival Mount Airy (10-0, 4-0) non Friday to determine the winner of the conference.