BOONE — A glowing harvest moon lit up the sky at Jack Groce Stadium on Friday the 13th, an extremely rare feat that won’t be matched for another 30 years, as the Wilkes Central Eagles traveled up the mountain for a nonconference matchup with 3A Watauga.
Typically, Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day and for the Eagles lady luck was not on their side as they were overpowered by Watauga 59-6.
Wilkes Central turned the ball over five times mainly due to their inability to snap the ball to the quarterback deep in its own territory. Two of those snaps resulted in safeties, while one was returned by the Pioneers for a touchdown.
While it was an inauspicious night for the Eagles, it was a complete different story for Watauga who took advantage of the turnovers and exploded for 37 points in the second quarter alone. The Pioneers racked up over 350 yards of total offense, with nearly 300 coming off the ground game, while limiting Wilkes Central to just over 100 yards on the night.
“It’s my fault, I didn’t have us ready to play,” explained Wilkes Central Head Coach Ron Turner after the loss. “We can make excuses about the amount of kids we had and the amount of kids we’ve got out, but we’ve still got to get the ones we’ve got ready to play and that’s my responsibility. Obviously I didn’t have them ready to play, and we will get it fixed.”
Watauga (3-1) started the night with a long, methodical drive the length of the field on the opening series. Senior Bryce Satterfield capped off the seven-play drive with a 1-yard run as he pounded up the middle to get on the board first. Carter Everett’s kick banked off the left upright and through to put them ahead 7-0. The Pioneers held Wilkes Central to a three and out, but a booming 62-yard punt from Ethan Dobson pinned Watauga deep in their own territory.
The Pioneers took over at their own 4-yard line and once again drove the length of the field to set up senior Jaiden Bond’s 14-yard run on a counter play. Anderson Castle’s run for the two-point conversion extended their lead to 15-0 with only a minute left in the first quarter.
On the first play of the second quarter, the Eagles’ Josh Pack dropped back to pass on third down and was hit in the backfield forcing him to fumble, which was recovered by Watauga. On the very next play the Pioneers’ Jake Watson took the handoff up the middle and into the end zone for a 7-yard score.
With an already three touchdown deficit, the Eagles began to feel the pressure of the Watauga defense as they would go on to fumble on each of their next four possessions due to bad snaps that rolled back to the quarterback or went over his head.
Those fumbles turned into points for the Pioneers as they returned one of the fumbles for a touchdown and secured two safeties to extend their lead to 45-0 with two minutes remaining in the half. Watauga scored once more on the very last play of the half as time expired with Castle finding Bond open in the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown, forcing a running clock for the remainder of the game.
Wilkes Central (2-2) showed fight as they took the opening kick in the second half and drove the ball the length of the field, picking up four first downs along the way. Facing second and short, Pack received the snap and ran a keeper up the middle, finding the end zone for a 7-yard score to put the Eagles on the board.
Watauga scored once more in the third quarter on as Castle connected with Bond once more — this time a 65-yard pass.
Wilkes Central will be off this week, while the following week it’ll host West Wilkes in a county and Mountain Valley Athletic Conference rivalry game in Moravian Falls. Watauga will continue its home stand on Friday night, as it’ll host Gastonia Ashbrook.
“Obviously it will help if we can get some kids healthy and get some kids back, if not we’ve got to get the ones we got ready to play and compete and I think our kids will be ready to play,” stated Turner.
Notes: In addition to the lengthy punt, Dobson also intercepted a pass on defense in the second quarter for the Eagles. A week after rushing for a career high, running back JoRaye Morrison was held to just 30 yards on eight carries. Satterfield, son of Louisville University and former Appalachian State Head Coach Scott Satterfield, left the game in the first quarter with a knee injury and did not return. Wilkes Central’s JV football squad picked up its first win of the 2019 season on Thursday night in a 28-22 victory over the Pioneers to move to 1-2 this fall.