East Surry wide receiver Shawn Creed could sense that his coach was going to dial up a long play on the Cardinals’ first snap of their opening game in the 1AA playoffs against Bessemer City.
Creed’s suspicion came to fruition as coach David Diamont called for a home run pass on East Surry’s first play. Quarterback Tyler Smith connected with Creed on an 85-yard passing score down the right sideline, and the explosive throw was just a sign of things to come in a dominating first quarter and 55-0 rout for the Cardinals (12-0) on Friday.
“We usually open it up with a big play to start things,” Creed said. “I didn’t want to let Tyler down, to be honest. He gets pretty mad when we drop the easy catches.”
The victory also helps the Cardinals finally dismiss the demons from last year’s first-round loss to Avery County. In a similar situation, heavily favored and at home, East Surry fell to the Vikings 23-15.
However, there were zero signs of a first-round letdown this season, and it was an all-around fantastic night for the third-seeded Cardinals’ passing attack. Smith completed all seven of his throws for 178 yards and three touchdowns.
Two of those scores were long throws to Creed, and the senior wideout finished the night with four receptions for 143 yards.
After that first-play touchdown from East Surry, Bessemer City (4-8) went three-and-out and punted the ball back to the Cardinals. A couple of solid runs from Joey Ray set up the Smith-to-Creed touchdown connection again, this time from 34 yards out.
The next two Yellow Jacket possessions both were one-play drives that ended in Blake Marion interceptions. The first turnover was a dropped ball that found its way right into the path of Marion, and the senior raced 32 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead.
The second interception led to a 34-yard touchdown run from Ray to make it 28-0 after less than five minutes of play.
The sophomore running back has been a pleasant spark to the East Surry offense all season, and Ray finished Friday with 127 yards and three touchdowns on just nine carries.
“It was all the offensive line,” Ray said. “If you watch the film, the holes just get opened up for me. It’s huge… This feels really good, and it is a confidence booster for me.”
Bessemer City couldn’t find a way to slow down the East Surry avalanche and fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving the Cardinals great field position.
The dynamic offense took advantage, and Smith tossed his final touchdown of the night on a 21-yard pass to Marion. A missed extra point meant East Surry held a 34-0 lead with 6:43 remaining in the first quarter.
East Surry got its final score of the opening period on a two-yard run from Ray. With 2:35 left until the second quarter, the Cardinals already had six touchdowns, a 41-0 lead, and had forced three turnovers.
“We started well because of great leadership by a group of seniors who feel like we can go on,” Diamont said. “We also have a coaching staff who has been fantastic all season long. Some of the things that they do is a credit to how hard they work and how much they work together.”
Ray put a stamp on his prolific night in the second quarter with a 21-yard touchdown run down the left sideline.
From this point forward, East Surry unloaded the bench and gave plenty of junior varsity players their first minutes under the bright lights of Friday night. The Cardinals kept their 48-0 lead going into the half, and the coaches agreed to a running clock with about nine minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Neither offense could muster much in the final two periods, but East Surry got its final score of the night on the defensive side of the ball.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Cardinal defense forced a fumble that freshman Mitchell Edwards recovered and dashed 20 yards into the end zone with, for the final score of 55-0.
The Cardinals must now set their sights on the sixth seed in the 1AA West, the East Montgomery Eagles.
East Montgomery came from behind to defeat 11-seed North Stanly on Friday 33-21. The Eagles are 10-2 on the year.