EAST BEND — The Unifi Bowl is the type of rivalry game that goes deeper than football. It’s a rivalry that’s ingrained into the minds of Starmount and Forbush alumni, and it makes the game that much more exciting.
After a couple of non-winning weeks for the Starmount Rams and Forbush Falcons, things took a turn on Friday night. The Rams traveled to East Bend to take on their cross-county rivals. Both teams were coming off of losses and were looking to turn their seasons around, it would only be the cherry on top to beat a rival.
For Starmount, things seemed to fall into place as it took a 20-0 win over Forbush to take the Unifi Bowl back to Boonville.
“It’s been a long time coming for our first win,” said Starmount Head Coach Scott Johnson. “We’ve actually been playing really well the whole three games. We’ve played with each team, but we shoot ourselves in the foot with turnovers. East Surry, we gave them three touchdowns with turnovers, and then last week it’s the same story we had four turnovers. We just felt like if we can get there, it would be good. We didn’t have any turnovers tonight and we were physical on offense and defense, and we caused a turnover. If we can keep doing those things, we can be a good football team. That’s what I’ve been telling them the whole time, so it’s good going into an open week and getting the monkey off of our back.”
Forbush won the toss and deferred to the second half which gave Starmount the opportunity to set the tone for the first quarter. Starmount started with the ball on the 28-yard line, and continued on to earn one first down before the Falcons defense took things into their hands and made the stop. Quarterback Patrick Usher tried a quarterback sneak which saw him gain three yards, but it wasn’t enough as Forbush’s Alex Boyles made the stop to bring up fourth down.
On Forbush’s first drive, the Falcons tried marching down the field but came up short. Things started out on the right foot as Derek Jayson found Forbush’s first first down at the 28-yard line. Jayson’s run gave the Falcons a bit of motivation, but Starmount was able to make the stop and force a punt on fourth down. Blake Winebarger’s punt landed on the 46-yard line which gave Starmount a short field on its next drive.
It took five plays for the Rams to come up with its first touchdown of the night. Trey Dezern started things off with a four-yard drive, which was followed up by a run by Eads. On third down, Dawson Smith scrambled through Forbush defenders to earn a first down and give Starmount a new set of downs. The Rams didn’t need three plays to make an impact as Dezern found a wide open Peyton Mullins on the outside. Mullins found the end zone for a 37 yard touchdown run, which was followed up by a good extra point, to give Starmount a 7-0 lead with 4:25 left in the first quarter.
Over the course of the next four minutes, both teams tried to drive down the field but were met with defensive pressure. At the start of the second quarter, Forbush had one of its best drives of the night. Jayson was able to find a first down in Starmount territory, but just as it seemed things were going well, the Rams pumped the brakes on Forbush’s drive. On fourth and two, the Falcons decided to go for it, Starmount brought the pressure which forced a fumble by Forbush and was recovered by the Rams. For the rest of the second quarter, neither team came close to scoring and the Rams held a 7-0 lead at halftime.
The third quarter saw neither team score, and the offensive pressures started to mount. In the final quarter, Starmount’s offensive was finally able to break through Forbush’s defense to score another touchdown. It took seven plays, and three minutes for Starmount to find the touchdown. Mullins scored his second of the night to give Starmount a 13-0 lead with 5:15 left in the fourth.
On Forbush’s drive, things looked to be going well as the Falcons were within scoring distance. Winebarger was hitting his stride with his defense until a third-down play. Dezern intercepted Winebarger’s pass to give Starmount the ball at the 65-yard line. The drive put the final nail in the coffin for the Falcons. Patrick Usher scored the final touchdown with a 28-yard run to give Starmount a 20-0 win.
“Considering how many people (Forbush) had on the line of scrimmage I think we played pretty dang well,” said Johnson. “I thought we played really well, we held on and stopped them. All three phases of the game tonight were good for us.”
With the win, the Rams move to 1-3 overall while Forbush also moves to 1-3. Starmount has a bye week next week, as the Falcons host North Wilkes.