West Stokes traveled to Starmount on Thursday night due to projected rainy weather for Friday, but still played through sloppy conditions and beat the Rams 22-20 when they scored the winning touchdown with 20 seconds left in the game.
“We beat a very good team tonight,” said Wildcats coach Jimmy Upchurch. “We were very fortunate to get out of here with a win. I felt they controlled the game with the run, but our kids stepped up when they had to and got the job done. I’m very happy with our effort tonight.”
The Wildcats took the opening kickoff and kept the ball for half of the first quarter, when they stalled on the Ram’s six-yard line after running 11 plays. They settled for a 23-yard field goal from Caleb Peters for the 3-0 lead.
West Stokes defense came up with their first stance when they stopped the Starmount offense on the Wildcat’s 15-yard line with a little over two-minutes left in the opening quarter. The purple Cat’s offense took over and scored two plays later on sophomore Chris Brown’s 83-yard gallop to the end zone pushing the Wildcats to a 10-0 lead.
The Ram’s opened the second quarter back in Wildcat territory. Despite West Stokes Tyler Walker becoming the career tackle leader for the school during the drive, Starmount scampered from eight-yards out to break into the scoring column and cut the Cat’s lead to 10-7.
Both defenses dominated the remainder of the quarter, but it was the Rams who forced a fumble right before the half. The offense scored with less than a minute left on a five-yard run by Peyton Mullins for a 14-10 home team lead at the break.
“We struggled to move the ball in the second quarter,” stated Upchurch. “I felt our offense line was giving us the holes, but our backs weren’t getting there. We need our offense to stay on the field longer in the second half to help our defense out.”
Starmount started the second half with the ball, but took the Wildcats three plays to get the pigskin back. Sophomore Palmer Elliott stepped in the passing lane and returned an interception 39-yards to give West Stokes the lead back at 16-14 after the missed point after attempt by Peters.
After a forced punt by the Wildcats and then their offense stalling on the Ram’s six-yard line, Starmount used a 14-play, 94-yard, nine-minute drive and took the lead back at 20-16 with 6:10 left in the game.
On the pursuing kickoff and a personal foul by the Wildcats, they started on the five-yard line and were forced to punt from their end zone with four minutes left in the game. Starting from the Wildcats 36-yard line, Tristan Carter forced a Ram fumble on the second play of the drive and gave the ball back to West with a little over three-minutes left in the game.
The Wildcats managed the clock and ran 13 plays and scored the winning touchdown on an eight-yard pass by Tyler Smith to sophomore Amon Conrad. Peters missed his second extra-point attempt, but an interception by Brown on the Wildcats 15-yard line ended the game and gave West the victory.
“Our defense stayed on the field more than we wanted them to in the second half, and we are very lucky to get a win tonight,” voiced the Wildcats coach. “I’m proud of the way Tyler (Smith) led us down the field on the last drive when we needed him to. Hopefully he grew up some tonight and realized what he is capable of when we had to have his leadership in a tight game. Walker was unbelievable tonight and he continues to lead our defense. His career tackle mark will stand for a long time.”
Walker led the defense with 20 tackles, while Tyler Little added 16 from the safety position and Carter contributed 12. Pratt had nine tackles and got his first sack on the year. Elliott tallied seven tackles and added a game changing interception. West defense forced four turnovers in the game.
Brown led the Wildcats offense with 190-yards on 28 carries and scored one touchdown. The offense had the ball seven minutes less than the Rams, but managed 248 total yards with 240 of them coming on the ground.
West Stokes improve to 2-1 on the year and will travel to McMichael High School on Friday night.
North Stokes traveled to powerhouse West Wilkes Thursday night. The Blackhawks started the game with a trick play, scored and kept the momentum going to take a 68-0 win. The Vikings travel to North Wilkes High School on Friday night.
Robert Money can be reached at 336-749-1193.