BOONVILLE - Starmount kicked off the 2012 season in familiar fashion - topping local rival Mount Airy.
The Rams ran wild Friday night for their third-straight opening-night victory over the Granite Bears, cruising to a 30-14 win as WXII 12’s Game of the Week.
“A pretty well-played game by both teams, as early as it is,” Starmount head coach Scott Johnson explained. “We had a punt blocked, and usually when you have a punt blocked, you don’t end up on the right end of it.
“Our kids didn’t panic on anything that they could panic about. We’ve won a bunch of football games and they believe in each other,” he added.
Senior tailback Chaston Martin lit up Mount Airy’s defense for 187 yards on just 13 carries (14.4 yards per rush) as Starmount recorded 325 rushing yards on the night. Fullback Hunter Myers added 77 yards, including a thrilling 61-yard burst for the first touchdown of the year.
“Chaston and Myers each had big runs. I remember saying that we didn’t have any superstars out there, but the one’s we have aren’t bad,” Johnson quipped.
In a hard-fought defensive first quarter, the Rams and Bears remained scoreless until Parker Gunnell connected for a 30-yard field goal midway through the second.
Then the flood gates opened.
Three minutes later, Myers broke free down the left sideline to extend the lead to 10-0 with 2:46 left on the clock.
Andrew Jones followed with a one-yard plunge for Mount Airy to trim the lead to 10-7 a minute later.
After the ensuing kickoff went into the end zone for a touch-back, Martin broke free down the left sideline for a dazzling 80-yard touchdown run to push the lead back out to double-digits at 17-7.
Coming out of the break, the Bears drove down the field in two minutes to trim the lead to 17-14 on a Zaquan Dobson touchdown run.
James Watson responded immediately, taking the kickoff 82 yards to the house to extend the lead to 24-14.
“He’s just a football player,” Johnson said. “He ran the ball well and had a couple big returns and was very physical at free safety; I was really tickled for him.”
Midway through the second half, Mount Airy blocked a Ram punt near midfield. But after the drive stalled, the Bears missed a 50-yard field goal and a chance to cut into the lead.
A roughing the punter penalty on Starmount’s next punt gave the Rams an extra possession, which Martin took full advantage of. The senior took the handoff and darted 58 yards for his second touchdown run of the night to push the lead to 30-14.
Mount Airy had one final drive at their own 19-yard line with less than two minutes to play. But on the first play of the drive, Brady Lamm picked off the pass and returned it to the three-yard line to seal the win for the Rams.
“Big pick,” Johnson said. “They have been running that stop-route right in front of him and he anticipated that and broke it off. Sealed it for us.”
Defensively, Will Lambert added a first-quarter interception, while Dalton Vestal recorded two sacks as Starmount limited the Granite Bears to 158 yards on the ground.
Quarterback Austin Taylor led Mount Airy with 76 rushing yards and 70 yards through the air.
Starmount returns to action Friday night when they travel to Pilot Mountain to take on East Surry. The Cardinals topped West Iredell 20-7 in their first game.
“There’s a lot of things that we could fix,” Johnson said. “I told them it doesn’t matter the outcome tonight that we would be a lot better football team next week, and I believe that.”
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.