PILOT MOUNTAIN — In a showdown of unbeaten East Cardinal varsity football teams, East Wilkes struck the first blow Friday night.
But host East Surry landed the next five punches, and the gridiron titan of northwest North Carolina then cruised to a 41-14 nonconference victory.
East Surry, a late replacement for West Caldwell on the East Wilkes schedule, improved to 2-0 with its fourth-straight victory over the Cardinals. East Wilkes fell to 2-1 on the season.
“I was really disappointed in how we performed,” said Jonathan Wilmoth, the East Wilkes coach. “Our level of play wasn’t where it had been, and that showed up in the scoreboard. We did not play well offensively up front.”
After a 22-yard field goal attempt by Stephen Brantley went wide right on East Surry’s first possession, East Wilkes’ Brody Martin broke free down the right sideline for a 66-yard rushing touchdown with 5:20 left in the first quarter.
Hank Porter’s point-after kick made it 7-0, an early deficit for a team with three straight 1AA state championship game appearances.
But East Surry quickly responded with a 90-yard kickoff return for touchdown by Kyle Zinn on the next play. Brantley’s PAT tied it at 7-7.
“Our momentum slipped away real fast when (Zinn) returned that kickoff,” noted Wilmoth. “It turned out to be just one of those games.”
Following an East Wilkes punt, the hosts converted on third-and-7 from the 17, with Layton Allen rumbling for 8 yards. Then junior quarterback Folger Boaz—younger brother of UNC signal caller Jefferson Boaz—connected with Brantley for a 6-yard touchdown.
Brantley’s PAT made it 14-7 with 2:47 remaining in the opening quarter.
After forcing another East Wilkes punt, East Surry drove 60 yards for its third score. Boaz hooked up with a wide-open Allen on the left flank for a 23-yard aerial strike with 10:25 left in the second. Brantley’s kick increased the lead to 21-7.
The ensuing East Wilkes punt led to a 67-yard scoring drive by East Surry, capped a 23-yard touchdown pass from Boaz to Trey Armstrong with 5:33 left in the first half.
The point-after kick by Brantley made it 28-7, a score that would hold up at halftime.
On East Wilkes’ first possession of the second half, a blocked punt was recovered by Brett Clayton on the hosts’ 43-yard line. A few plays later, Armstrong rushed into the end zone from 5 yards out with 8:49 left in the third.
Facing a 34-7 deficit, East Wilkes’ final score came in the third quarter. Capping a 54-yard drive, Martin swept left into the end zone from the half-yard line with 2:16 left in the period. Porter’s point-after kick completed the Wilkes scoring.
Boaz—who completed 20-of-26 passes for 319 yards—notched his fourth aerial score with an 85-yard strike to Luke Brown with 1:45 to play. Brown and Armstrong each had 138 all-purpose yards for East Surry, a member of the Foothills 2A Conference.
Juniors Brennan Arnder and Easton Martin each had nine tackles for East Wilkes. Senior Kole Lambert stripped a ball that was secured by Weston Brown and also recovered another East Surry fumble.
East Wilkes junior Anthony Graham, who scored five touchdowns and averaged 221 all-purpose yards in his club’s first two victories, didn’t play in the second half after injuring his right knee on a defensive play midway through the second quarter.
Wilmoth said team staff is still evaluating Graham’s status for Friday. “We’re not sure of the extent of the injury; he’s just taking it day by day.”
The Cardinals are scheduled to host Wilkes Central on Friday. The 1-0 Eagles are coming off a two-week quarantine and hold a 12-5 advantage in the series since 2004, including a 32-19 victory in Moravian Falls in April.