Senior receiver Garrett Vernon caught a touchdown pass and ran for two touchdowns and fellow senior Hunter Carlino had two sacks in the final three minutes to give the Cardinals their first win of the season, Friday night in Dobson.
The Golden Eagles took a 20-12 lead when Junior Palacios returned the second half kickoff 90 yards and Tony Cortes added the extra point. But the Cardinals held the Eagles to 90 yards in the second half.
East Wilkes forced a punt a possession later, and on the first play, Vernon went 74 yards with a jet sweep to cut the lead to 20-18 with 2:45 to play in the third quarter.
Blake Thompson and Dakota Rouse stopped Karson Crouse short on fourth down from the East Wilkes 32 to give the Cardinals the ball back.
East Wilkes quarterback Caeden Howell scrambled to his left and threw to Trey Lambert to convert third-and-12 with a 16-yard gain. One play later, Vernon went around right end for his third score, a 21-yard run that gave East Wilkes its first lead of the second half. Howell added the 2-point conversion for a 26-20 lead with 8:10 to play.
Maisen Holt’s 25-yard run gave Surry Central first down at the East Wilkes 5-yard line. Brayson Church stopped Logan Priddy at the 2 on first down, and Chase Holt bobbled the snap and lost 6 yards on second down. Holt rolled right on third down from the 8, but Carlino sacked him from the blind side, and Holt’s fourth down pass was incomplete.
After East Wilkes intentionally took a safety, cutting the lead to four points, Surry Central got the ball back with 27 seconds remaining and no timeouts. Maisen Holt threw to Trent Shumate at midfield with 12 seconds to play, but Carlino sacked Holt to end the game.
East Wilkes took a 6-0 lead on Howell’s 16-yard run on the game’s first possession. The Eagles tied it on Daniel Valenzuela’s 3-yard run.
The Cardinals took a 12-6 lead on Howell’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Vernon, but Surry Central took a 13-12 halftime lead on Palacios’ 6-yard run with 5:15 remaining in the second quarter.
(Look for a full story, complete with statistics and coaches’ quotes, in the next issue of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot.)