BOONVILLE — Starmount rode a slew of ball carriers and a stout defense to its fifth-straight win to open the 2012 season Friday night.
The Rams scored two early touchdowns and shut down Ashe County’s offensive attack en route to a 28-0 victory in Boonville.
“I’m extremely proud of our defense; we put them in a hole early,” head coach Scott Johnson said. “They stepped up and played really well against a good football team. We uncharacteristically had three turnovers - two interceptions, like we throw it a lot.
“This group believes in themselves. They got frustrated a little bit because at one point we had eight penalties and they had one,” he continued. “They got frustrated but they handled it - they didn’t let the officials take them out of their game. They believed in each other and kept plugging away.”
Ashe keyed on slowing down all-conference running back Chaston Martin, freeing up running lanes for Will Simpson, Hunter Myers and Joe Walker. Martin finished with 44 yards on the ground on nine carries, while Simpson led the way with 86 yards, including a thrilling 60-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Walker finished with 77 yards on the ground, while Myers added 52 yards. Sergio Sarinara tacked on 19 yards as the Rams rushed for 331 yards as a team.
“Ashe was sitting on Chaston so I was real pleased with us being able to distribute the ball to other people and use him primarily as a decoy,” Johnson explained. “I don’t think he even had 50 yards rushing, but he doesn’t care, he goes hard and is a great team player.
“He told me that as long as they’re chasing him, somebody else can go; so he understands. With everybody sitting on Chaston, it free us some other guys, and that’s out of respect for him,” he continued.
Starmount’s defense continued its dominating stretch, recording its second shutout in three games. The Rams held Ashe to just 142 yards of total offense and are holding opponents to 4.8 points per game.
“They’re playing really well. They’re doing a good job listening and studying film and scouting reports,” Johnson explained. “Coach Perdue and the defensive staff are getting them ready, and they’re executing really well. We’re still not as fast as I want us to be, but I don’t think we’ll ever be.”
Starmount came out on fire, putting the Huskies in an early hole.
After dropping the Ashe ball carrier at the seven-yard line on the opening kickoff, the Rams forced a three-and-out on a Dalton Vestal sack. The Husky punter shanked the punt, setting up Starmount deep in Ashe territory.
On the first play, Martin broke free on a seven-yard score over left tackle to give the Rams an early 7-0 lead.
On the next defensive series, Simpson recovered an Ashe fumble. Starmount capitalized when Trey Money connected with Will Lambert on a 27-yard strike to extend the advantage to 14-0.
The Huskies finally managed to move the ball in the second, driving into the redzone. After a Nathan Williams sack on first-and-goal, Ashe missed a chippy field goal attempt from 22 yards out.
Three minutes later, Simpson burst up the gut on a fake hand-off and darted 60 yards down the left sideline to push the lead out to 21-0 with four minutes left in the opening half.
Starmount threatened to score just before the half after a Michael Wood sack forced another Husky punt. Brian King broke free to the 26-yard line, setting up a Parker Gunnell long field goal attempt in the waning seconds. The kick sailed wide right as the Rams took a three-touchdown advantage into the locker room.
After Simpson recovered a second Husky fumble midway through the third quarter, Samuel Stone found the endzone from one yard out for the back-breaking score, extending Starmount’s lead out to 28-0.
From there, the Rams flexed its muscles and kept Ashe out of the endzone. Vestal forced another Husky fumble, while Lambert picked off another pass in the endzone. Williams broke up two passes in the fourth as Starmount won its fifth-straight game to remain perfect.
With the win, the Rams improved to 5-0 on the season and remained unbeaten in the Mountain Valley Conference at 3-0. The win extended Starmount’s unprecedented conference win streak to 36 games, dating back to 2007.
The Rams return to the field Friday in the hyped annual rivalry game with cross-town rival Elkin in the Battle of the Bridge.
Johnson says he’s looking forward to the matchup, especially with the Buckin’ Elks playing good football early on.
“It’s always fun to play them,” he said. “I asked our guys the other day ‘you know how much I appreciate Elkin?’ and they said ‘why?’” I told them that you want to have a rival that’s a good, competitive, community-against-community, everybody-gets-excited-about rival. I told them they ought to be thankful for that.
“There’s a lot of them that run around together. It’s intense for one night a year,” Johnson added.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.