ELKIN — The Starmount Rams football team traveled the short distance to Elkin High School on Friday night for the 2018 edition of the Battle of the Bridge. It was a close game through four quarters, as both teams were looking to start off conference play with a much needed win. Things came down to the final two minutes of the game, and it was the orange and blue who came out on top. Starmount was able to earn its first win of the season, and hand Elkin their first home loss of the season, with a 22-15 win.
Their were several key plays to the game for the Buckin’ Elks and the Starmount Rams. In the first two quarters, the defense for both sides came out strong. Elkin was able to stop Starmount’s first drive of the night, which ended on the 49-yard line.
Elkin’s offense came out and took over on the 17-yard line and they were able to drive down the field on the next few plays. Ty Townsend found the hands of Luke Belia for a 15-yard pass on third and ten. From there, Elkin kept driving as Townsend picked up a first down with a huge run up the middle for a 48-yard gain. Elkin was in prime position to keep the drive going, but Starmount had other ideas.
Bayden Childress, Dawson Smith and Ethan Barnes all had big stops for the Rams on defense. On fourth and 11 from the 12-yard line, Elkin brought on its field goal unit to try and put points on the board. Just as the kick was taken by Brady Shugart, Nik Pardue was able to jump in front of the kick to block the ball and keep the score 0-0.
Starmount went for a field goal on its next drive, but the kick was no good. With 1:28 left in the first quarter, both teams had yet to put points on the board.
The first points of the night were scored in Starmount’s favor, as a safety was called on Elkin. The Starmount defensive line was able to break through and tackle Townsend in the end zone for two points. With under two minutes left to play in the second quarter, Starmount received the kick-off and things started to go their way.
Barnes carried the ball for four plays in a row which accumulated 19-yards for the Rams. On the fifth play of the drive, Trey Dezern found the hands of Eric Wiles who made his way down the field for a 13-yard gain. Starmount kept chipping away until the Rams found themselves on the 20-yard line on first and ten with 19.4 seconds left in the quarter.
Dezern was able to find time as the offensive line for Starmount stood strong. Just as the clock hit zero, Dezern looked down field and threw a perfect pass to Childress, who caught the ball and put himself in the end zone for the first Starmount touchdown of the night. The extra point attempt was no good, but the Rams had successfully taken an 8-0 lead at halftime.
In the second half, tensions started rising for both teams. Both teams had to punt the ball away on their opening drives of the third quarter.
On Elkin’s second drive, the Buckin’ Elks were able to put together several successful plays to find a touchdown. It was a 35-yard drive which saw Townsend use two of his running backs – Tyler Mayes and Maston Renegar, before putting the ball into the end zone himself. Elkin went for the two point conversion, and Townsend once again kept the ball to complete the eight point play. With 7:16 left in the third quarter, Elkin had tied the game 8-8.
Elkin kept up its momentum on the next offensive drive, as they put up another touchdown. On third and eight from the nine yard line, Townsend gave the ball to Belia which put six points on the board. The extra point attempt by Shugart was good, and Elkin had a 15-8 lead over the Rams.
As the fourth quarter started, things were beginning to heat up in the stands and on the field. Elkin made a big stop on defense as Starmount went for the touchdown on fourth and goal from the three yard line. Austin Longworth was able to stop Dezern from crossing the goal line and the ball was turned over on downs.
The turnover by Starmount didn’t turn into anything for the Buckin’ Elks as their drive died out on the 13-yard line. Starmount was able to get the ball back at the 48, and from there the Rams were able to tie the game.
On second and ten, Elkin was flagged for a personal foul which gave Starmount a new set of downs on the 35-yard line. Barnes was able to run to his right and gain eight yards which brought up second and two.
As the ball was on the 27-yard line, Starmount threw the ball into the air to Childress who was able to make the catch and score the tying touchdown. The extra point attempt was put through the uprights, and the game was tied 15-15 with 2:54 left in the fourth quarter.
Elkin looked to make its comeback on the next drive, but on second and ten things went Starmount’s way. Townsend put the ball into the air and just as it looked the be headed towards a blue jersey, Barnes came out of nowhere and intercepted the ball for the Rams. Barnes returned the interception to the 30-yard line, and the Rams were in prime position to score another touchdown.
J. Max Swaim ran the ball on the first two plays for 13-yards, then Barnes ran the ball on first and ten for a nine yard gain. As time was winding down, Barnes was able to make his way through a herd of Elks to score a touchdown for Starmount. The point after attempt was good, and with 34.6 seconds left in the game Starmount had a 22-15 lead over Elkin.
The Buckin’ Elks tried to make their way down the field with the little time they had left, but the play stalled at the 41-yard line just as time ran out.
Starmount had successfully taken a 22-15 conference win over Elkin, and its first win of the season.
With the win, Starmount moves to 1-4 overall and 1-0 in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference. The Rams will host Alleghany (2-3, 0-1) on Friday night. Elkin is now 3-2 overall and 0-1 in the MVAC. The Elks will travel to Ashe County (3-2, 1-0) on Friday night.
For the full game story, as well as quotes from Coach Grinton, pick up next week’s editions of the Elkin Tribune and Yadkin Ripple.