DOBSON — Friday night’s rivalry game between Surry Central and North Surry had all the ingredients of an instant classic.
Explosive plays on both sides of the ball, key defensive stops, a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback, non-stop drama and much more had fans on the edge of their seats and the blood pressure of the coaches, even those on the winning sideline, through the roof.
On the night of Surry Central’s homecoming, the surging 3-1 Golden Eagles hosted a young and hungry North Surry team that just had its first win of the shortened season. After two lead changes in the final 3:00 of the game, North Surry emerged victorious by a score of 37-34.
“As a fan, that had to be an unbelievable game to watch,” said Central coach Monty Southern. “On both teams, every kid did everything they could possibly do to win that game. That’s what I told the kids. While we were disappointed in the outcome, but we weren’t disappointed in the kids. That was just two teams that refused to lose.”
North Surry, a team with just 12 upperclassmen, has been through its fair share of adversity this season. An 0-3 start, a folded JV team and having to constantly shift players to different positions were just some of the obstacles in the Greyhounds’ path to success.
But, Patrick Taylor’s mindset of getting better every week has yielded results in the win column. North Surry has now won back-to-back games.
Taylor compared the Hounds’ recent winning streak to Ernest Hemingway’s novel, “The Old Man and the Sea.”
He said: “Everybody knows that book isn’t about an old man and a boat, but it’s about what a man has to go through to be a man. The sacrifice, the pain, the suffering and the perseverance that sometimes in life you may come out with a win or you may come back with a loss. You don’t know how the story is going to end if you don’t persevere through the pain, the suffering, the good and the bad.
“That’s what these last two wins have been like. They’ve been last-drive wins, back to the wall, the other team has taken the lead and we get a turnover or a stop and then we go down the field and score. That’s who we are. We just have to keep rowing and fighting through adversity.”
Two weeks after throwing his first varsity touchdown, Greyhound sophomore Aaron Mauck threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns against Surry Central. Five of his completions were to fellow sophomore Jahreece Lynch, who finished with 233 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Senior Tanner Woods added two catches for 42 yards and a TD.
Lynch’s first TD was a 79-yard reception on the Hounds’ first play from scrimmage. North was set to receive the opening kickoff, but Central recovered it and went on to put six on the board after a Karson Crouse rushing TD.
This was all part of the back-and-forth first quarter in which 24 combined points were scored in just 64 seconds. Crouse scored at 6:22, then Mauck connected with Lynch at 6:08. Neither PAT was successful.
At 5:31, North Surry’s Ryan Simmons picked off Central quarterback Chase Holt and ran 40 yards to the end zone. Then, Golden Eagle junior Logan Priddy returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. The PAT was blocked by Riley Jenkins to leave the score at 12-12.
North Surry slowed the game down after Priddy’s TD by getting freshman running back Jake Simmons involved. Simmons went on to carry the ball 27 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
The Hounds were held up on this drive after Central’s defense kept Jake Simmons under control and Sam Whitaker recorded his first of four sacks on the evening.
Central started the next drive inside its own 10, but was helped out after a North Surry player was called for a personal foul. The Eagles utilized five different running backs to move the chains and finish with 159 yards rushing on 39 carries.
Holt led the team in carries with 11 for 39 yards, followed by Karson Crouse with 10 for 55 yards, Junior Palacios with nine for 7 yards, Priddy with six for 40 yards and Dante Watson with three for 18 yards.
Central held the ball for nearly six minutes before Holt connected with Brady Woods for a 20-yard TD pass. Jacob Edmonds’ PAT made it 19-12.
North Surry responded with Jake Simmons rushing TD on the next drive after converting twice on fourth down. The Hounds attempted a 2-point conversion, but were held up at the goal line to leave the score at 19-18.
North had an opportunity to take the lead just before halftime, but Central’s Whitaker and Andres Gonzalez each sacked Mauck to run out the clock.
The game’s first true momentum shift occurred gradually in the third quarter. Priddy returned the kickoff to the Greyhound 36, then Central spent four minutes trying to get into the end zone. A Holt pass to Dakota Mills put the Eagles inside the five, but North wouldn’t bend.
Central eventually attempted a field goal but it sailed too far left. This allowed the Greyhounds to have a four-minute drive of their own, which concluded with a Mauck 36-yard TD pass to Woods to go up 24-19.
The Eagles had to punt for the first time on the next drive. North took advantage by scoring again, this time on a Jake Simmons 2-yard run with 22.7 seconds left. Jovani Flores knocked down the PAT to make it 31-19.
“When they went up two scores, our kids had the chance to fold and just wouldn’t,” Southern said. “We battled back. I was proud of the grit our guys showed.”
Another spectacular return from Priddy put the Eagles on the Greyhound 30. Two plays later, Woods was celebrating his second touchdown receptions of the game. Edmonds’ PAT cut the lead to 31-26 with 11:54 left in the game.
The Eagles quickly forced a three-and-out after Whitaker’s third sack of the game. Central ended up reaching the red zone on its next drive and turning the ball over on downs, but forced another three-and-out with 4:20 left to play.
Priddy returned the North Surry punt to the Greyhound 29. It only took 95 seconds for Central to score, doing so on a Krouse 1-yard run. Holt punched in the 2-point conversion to put the Eagles up 34-31 with 2:45 remaining.
North Surry started on its own 20 and was moved back a yard after Whitaker’s fourth sack. Mauck had to scramble when he saw Whitaker chasing him, but the Central senior laid out to make shoestring tackle for a loss.
“Sam has had a great year for us,” Southern said. “In his four years, it’s crazy to see how he’s transformed his body. I’ve never had a player like him in the weight room.”
Whitaker’s sack had the potential to be a game-changer, but North Surry put the game away on the following play. Mauck connected with Lynch who, despite triple coverage, made the catch and ran to the end zone for an 81-yard touchdown.
“He had a heck of a game,” Southern said of Lynch. “He just stepped up when they needed him. It’s not that our guys did anything that was bad, he just made great plays.”
The PAT was no good, leaving the score at 37-34 with 1:45 to play.
Holt connected with two passes on what would be Central’s final drive of the game, but neither gained any yards after North quickly jumped on the receivers. Holt’s two other attempts fell incomplete as the Eagles turned the ball over on downs with less than a minute to play. North ran the clock out to solidify the three-point win.
“I was super proud of our kids,” Southern said. “We told them that sometimes in life you’re going to want something so bad and put so much work in for it and it won’t go as planned. How you respond is what defines you. Our job as coaches is to get them ready to give that effort next Friday. “We don’t have many seniors, but our seniors made sure we came ready to play tonight and I’m confident they will next week too.”
Taylor also highlighted the efforts of his seniors and how the culture they created in the locker room has been so pivotal to the team’s recent success.
“That’s one of the biggest things that I love about them,” he said. “They were at school at noon today and they didn’t have to be there until 3:30 to eat. Just to be around each other and be around their coaches. That says something when a teenager could be laying in the bed on a remote work day but chooses to come be with his team.”
Taylor also mentioned that he arrived to practice last Wednesday to see the players already running fundamental drills before the coaches arrived.
“Where you see one, you see 20. That’s part of a true team,” he said.
North Surry – 12, 6, 13, 6 = 37
Surry Central – 12, 7, 0, 15 = 34
6:22 SCHS 6-0 –Karson Crouse 6-yard rush TD, PAT no good
6:08 NSHS 6-6 – Aaron Mauck pass to Jahreece Lynch 79-yard TD reception, PAT no good
5:31 NSHS 12-6 – Ryan Simmons interception of Chase Holt returned 40 yards for a TD, PAT no good
5:18 SCHS 12-12 – Logan Priddy 80-yard kickoff return, PAT no good
9:06 SCHS 19-12 – Chase Holt pass to Brady Woods 20-yard TD reception, Jacob Edmonds PAT
5:33 NSHS 19-18 – Jake Simmons 4-yard rush TD, 2-point conversion no good
4:23 NSHS 19-24 – Aaron Mauck pass to Tanner Woods 36-yard TD reception, 2-point conversion no good
0:23 NSHS 19-31 – Jake Simmons 2-yard rush TD, Jovani Flores PAT
11:54 SCHS 26-31 – Chase Holt pass to Brady Woods 15-yard TD reception, Jacob Edmonds PAT
2:45 SCHS 34-31 –Karson Crouse 1-yard rush TD, Chase Holt 2-point conversion
1:45 NSHS 34-37 – Aaron Mauck pass to Jahreece Lynch 81-yard TD reception, PAT no good
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