PILOT MOUNTAIN — Bishop McGuinness hung around for a quarter on Friday night, but a huge third period blew open the game and kept East Surry undefeated with a 49-6 victory.
This wasn’t the way the crowd thought Homecoming night would begin.
At the end of the first quarter, the Cardinals (8-0) only led by a single point and were punting away to a Villains team that was only 3-6 and was crushed 48-0 a week earlier by Mount Airy.
Tyler Smith hadn’t thrown an interception all season, but got his first when a high throw bounced off the hand of Shawn Creed and right into Hunt Raborn’s lap.
Then, early in the second quarter, running back Joey Ray lost a fumble that was recovered at East’s 40-yard line.
The Villains got as close as the Cardinals’ 23, but on fourth down, Eddie Scott chased the quarterback all the way to the 42 before getting a sack and a turnover on downs.
That was just the spark the Cards needed, and the home team was unstoppable for the next one and a half periods.
Smith had a 29-yard run to the Bishop 35-yard line. Another Smith run reached the 18 and another first down. After Smith picked up three yards, Ray got 12 more for a first-and-goal from the 3. Ray scored on the next play to make it 14-6 with 6:00 left.
Bishop completed a short pass that turned into a 42-yard gain. Then Andrew Hooker made a play on a ball, but Raborn tipped the ball up in the air to himself and turned it into another good gain for the Villains to the 19-yard line.
The East Surry defense then forced a fumble and recovered it at the 22.
Smith found Blake Marion for a 17-yard gain, then they connected again for a 61-yard touchdown catch to make it 21-6 with 3:50 left in the half.
Bishop picked up a couple of first downs, but the East pass rush forced an intentional grounding penalty that halted the drive.
Taking over after a punt at their own 14, the Cards moved all the way to Bishop’s 23-yard line in time for a last-second field goal try from Devon Goble. The senior had the distance, but missed just right.
Then came the lengthy halftime presentation.
If the festivities distracted the boys, the home team certainly didn’t show it in the third quarter, as they added to the scoreboard like a basketball game with one fast break after another.
After forcing a punt on Bishop’s first possession, the Cards wasted no time. Smith took the first snap and raced 47 yards to the end zone. With a Goble kick (he was a perfect 7-7 on extra points), the Cards led 28-6.
After another Villain punt, Smith hit Marion with a short pass on the right side, and the senior went 48 yards to the 11-yard line.
Smith reached the 2 on a keeper, but a fumble on the snap gave Bishop the ball on the 4-yard line.
When the drive stalled 26 yards later, the Villains punted back to East to their 37.
On the first snap, Smith threw a deep out to the left sideline, 23 yards away. Marion caught the ball, and the defender fell down, allowing the receiver to sprint 40 yards to the end zone for a 63-yard TD catch. That made it 35-6 with 5:16 left in the third.
After a three-and-out from the Villains, East took over at its 33-yard line. On the snap, Smith broke free again and streaked up the left sideline 67 yards for another touchdown. That made it 42-6, and fans were eager for a 42-point lead and a running clock on the mercy rule.
In that third quarter Smith was responsible for 225 yards on just four plays — 111 yards on two passes to Marion and 114 on two long runs.
While Marion made several big plays in the game, the senior did muff a punt to give Bishop excellent field position at East’s 47.
Bishop tried to rally and drove to the 28-yard line, but East’s Connor Sheets picked off a pass at the 16 to snuff that drive.
Bishop finally stopped a drive to start the fourth quarter, but a high punt from Smith forced a fair catch at the 11-yard line.
Then Marion picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown to make it 49-6 with 10:47 left.
“Blake Marion is just a heck of a football player,” said coach David Diamont.
The defense did a good job against the run, said the coach. Bishop throws the ball all over the place, but after some adjustments, Diamont was pleased with his pass defense as well.
“We started out a little sluggish, made some mistakes,” he admitted. “But then we kicked it into gear.”
“On the offensive side, we were really quick to score,” Diamont said in quite the understatement.
“Tyler Smith was phenomenal,” he said. “What do you say when a kid has 188 yards rushing and 298 yards passing?”
As for his kicker going 7-7 on PATs and nearly making a long field goal, Diamont said, “Devon Goble is a young man who has really worked hard and made himself into a very good kicker.”
The Cards improved to 9-0 on the season and 4-0 in the Northwest Conference, tied with Mount Airy atop the standings.
The two teams meet in the season finale, but first East must travel to Danbury to face North Stokes.
Asked if he was looking ahead to Mount Airy, Diamont joked, “The only thing I see is green, and I’m not talking about the grass.”