PILOT MOUNTAIN — It was a tale of two halves for East Surry on Friday night in its week-two matchup with the Starmount Rams
Starmount outscored East Surry 14-7 in the third and fourth quarters with a ground-and-pound attack.
However, it wasn’t enough thanks to the Cardinals’ dominance in the first half for a 27-point lead. East Surry (2-0) was prolific; both on the ground and through the air, and the Cards cruised to the finish with a 41-21 win.
“I’ve got players that make us look good, and make me look really good,” East Surry coach David Diamont said.
Diamont is living up to his promise of a more balanced offense through two games of the 2015 season, thanks to the multi-dimensional attack of Tyler Smith, his senior quarterback.
Smith completed 12 of his 18 passes for 191 yards, while also carrying the ball 12 times for 94 yards. He scored four touchdowns, two with his legs and two through the air, and he set the tone early.
“Zone-read was working a whole lot tonight,” Smith said. “It’s a whole lot easier to pass when it gets opened up, so hopefully we can keep it going.”
East Surry scored on their first drive of the game when Smith kept a read-option and hustled into the end zone from 10 yards out. The drive took just four plays.
The only bright spot for Starmount (0-2) in the first half came on the ensuing kickoff. Brandon Prescott broke to the right and returned the kick 90 yards for a Ram touchdown to tie the game.
The firepower stalled a bit as both teams couldn’t muster much more on their next two drives. However, East Surry was in full control from this point forward in the half.
After forcing Starmount into a five-yard punt, the Cardinals took over from their own 43-yard line. Smith and Joey Ray each carried the ball three times on the drive, and Ray eventually capped it off with a one-yard touchdown run. After a missed extra point, the Cardinals held a 13-7 lead.
East Surry got its first passing touchdown of the night on the next series. Smith found Blake Marion wide open across the middle of the field for a 29-yard score.
Smith and Ray each ran home another touchdown before halftime to extend the Cardinals lead to 34-7 at the intermission. East Surry threw 16 passes and carried the ball 21 times in the first two quarters.
The Rams got their offense going in the second half. Starmount had a lot of success with tight formations and running the ball off-tackle, and it led to two touchdowns.
Starmount’s first score came on the opening series of the second half when Peyton Mullins scored a two-yard touchdown that ended a 14-play drive for the Rams.
Although they had minimal possession and were outscored in the half, the Cardinals made sure Starmount never mounted too much momentum. After the Rams scored on that first drive, East Surry scored on just three plays to keep the game out of reach.
Smith and Marion connected on their second touchdown of the evening, this time on a fade route in the left corner of the end zone. The senior receiver beat two Starmount defenders for the grab.
Marion finished the night with five catches for 116 yards and those two scores. He also played solid defense out of the outside linebacker position for East Surry.
“They had a pretty good plan in the secondary tonight, but we made some good adjustments out there,” Marion said. “And the quarterback made me look good.”
The final score of the game was an eight-yard run from Starmount’s Patrick Usher with 10:47 remaining in the fourth quarter. It was the second consecutive Ram drive that ended in a touchdown, but the East Surry defense locked in from there, forcing the Rams into two failed fourth-down attempts.
“In the second half we just have to play a little bit better,” Diamont said. “I thought Starmount showed a tremendous amount of courage to go into a shoe-to-shoe offense, when you’re getting beat, and just take the whole game away when you’re getting beat.”
East Surry will look to keep its dynamic offense going next week against the North Surry Greyhounds. It will be a matchup of two unbeaten teams at this early point in the season.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16