It took West Stokes three quarters to get going Friday night on the gridiron, but when the dust settled the Wildcats beat a solid Surry Central team 47-21 to remain undefeated in the Western Piedmont Athletic 2A Conference.
“Surry Central is a well-coached team that plays hard,” said Wildcat coach Jimmy Upchurch. “The Palacios (Martin) kid is one of the best players in our conference. He is strong, fast and runs the ball hard. Coach Southern does a great job with those kids and gets the most out of them.”
West jumped to an early 10-0 lead when Chris Brown scored from three yards out with 5:30 left in the quarter. Caleb Peters added the extra point and then hit a 30-yard field goal.
Surry Central cut into the Cats lead with a touchdown from Palacios, but missed the extra point and the home team led 10-6 at the 9:27 mark of the second quarter. Tyler Smith extended the Wildcats lead with 13 seconds left before the half on a 7-yard touchdown run. Peters connected on the extra point and the team held a 17-6 advantage going into the locker room.
“Tyler (Smith) continues to grow every week,” Upchurch said. “He’s making better decisions with each game and is leading this team on the field. His passes have been more accurate and our offense is improving every game and that starts with him.”
The Eagles played keep-away from the Wildcats to start the second half and held the ball for more than eight minutes of the third quarter. On Surry Central’s first possession, they scored on a nine-play drive that covered 72-yards on Palacios second touchdown of the game. Ryan Martin ran in the two-point conversion and the visitors cut the lead to 17-14 with 8:29 left.
Late in the third quarter, West Stokes defense stepped up with an interception from Brown. His return set the Wildcats up for first-and-goal from the 5-yard line. Surry Central squeezed the Cats forcing them into a field goal after they were tackled for a 10-yard loss. Peters tied a school record with his second field goal of the game pushing the Wildcats lead to 20-14.
Surry Central capped off a nine-play drive that started in the third quarter with an 18-yard dash from Martin and a 21-20 lead with 11:52 left in the game.
On the pursuing kickoff, Dustin Blevins put West back on top with a 90-yard kickoff return. The Wildcats momentum continued and the offense scored three more touchdowns on 10 offensive plays in the last 12 minutes.
“We played as well as we could in the fourth quarter,” Upchurch said. “Everything went our way and momentum shifted back to us after Dustin’s touchdown.”
West Stokes had 329 total yards of offense with 146 coming through the air from Smith. Brown had 80-yards rushing with one touchdown and Smith added three rushing touchdowns. Tyler Walker led the defense with 19 tackles and Parker Pratt added 15.
West Stokes improved to 7-2 overall and 4-0 in conference play. The Wildcats will travel to North Surry (9-1, 5-0) on Friday to determine the WPAC championship.
Robert Money can be reached at 336-749-1193.