South Stokes came from behind Friday night against non-conference opponent Bartlett Yancey to win 29-28 with a late fourth quarter touchdown.
“Our kids fought hard and didn’t give up when we got behind,” said Mike Holmes, the Sauras coach. “We had some misfortune in our special teams that led to a couple of scores for them, but we were able to overcome those mistakes and get a much needed win for our kids tonight.”
The Buccaneers forced South to punt on their first possession where they took over on the 31-yard line. The Sauras had them pinned for a third and 16 when Jacob Scales rattled off a 44-yard gain to give the Bucs first and ten at the Sauras’ 20-yard line. One play later, Chase Johnson found Malachi Gwynn out of the back field on a swing pass that he took to the end zone. The two-point conversion was no good and the Buccaneers led 6-0 with 6:03 left in the first.
South was forced to punt in a three and out on their next possession, but the ball sailed over Alex Booe’s head for a 19-yard loss giving the home team first and goal on the eight. On third down, Johnson and Gwynn hooked up again for a three-yard touchdown reception. Scales ran in the extra-point for a 14-0 lead with 1:38 still remaining in the first period.
At the end of the first quarter, the Sauras were able to get off a big play by Adam McMillan picking up 27-yards near midfield. After a tackle for a loss and a penalty, South started the second on third and seven from the home team’s 47-yard line. A sack on third down forced South to punt, but another special team mishap allowed the Buccaneers first down on the Sauras’ 31-yard line. Four plays later, Robert Gonzalez broke off a 37-yard touchdown run on third and 16 with 8:52 left before the half. The two-point conversion by Joe Durdan saw the Bucs lead grow to 22-0.
The Sauras got some life on the ensuing kickoff when Zach Slate rumbled 50-yards and was hit late out of bounce to give South the ball on the Buccaneers’ 20-yard line. On third and one, McMillan ran in from 11-yards out giving them their first touchdown of the evening. Ivan Caro made the extra-point, but Bartlett Yancey still led 22-7 with 7:58 showing on the second quarter clock.
South Stokes defense continued to play well and got another stop and forced a punt. The Sauras took over close to midfield and used 13-plays and all, but 50 second of the period to cut into the Bucs’ lead at 22-14 after Caro’s extra-point.
Bartlett Yancey started their last possession of the half from the 39-yard line. Trying to hurry up and throw after one run play, Johnson threw an interception to the Sauras’ Nolan Warren. Warren returned the ball down to the 13-yard line with 4.5 seconds left in the half. Caro knocked down the 30-yard field goal to cut the Sauras deficit to 22-17 at the half.
“Our defense rose to the challenge again and Nolan stepped in the passing lane and got us were we needed to be to hit a field goal as time expired,” stated the Sauras coach. “That was a game changing play for us. I told them during halftime that we needed to keep applying pressure and they would break.”
South Stokes used the momentum from the end of the first half to take their first lead of the game to begin the second. The defense forced a punt on a three and out and then the offense moved 61-yards in five straight run plays and scored when Ryan Moses broke through from 6-yards out with 8:06 left. The two-point attempt failed, but the Sauras led 23-22.
The Sauras entered the fourth quarter with the one-point lead, but the Buccaneers finally broke through and regained the lead on their first possession of the period. Gonzales hit pay dirt from 55-yards out with 10:05 left. Decarlos Rodgers stuffed Scaled on the two-point try, but the Bucs went back in front 28-23.
The visiting team punted again on their next possession, but a stop by the Sauras gave them the ball back on the 50-yard line. After a no gain on first down, McMillan scored his second touchdown of the game when he ran the distance with 5:18 left in the game. Again, the two-point conversion pass failed and the Sauras clung to a 29-28 lead.
The last possession of the game for Bartlett Yancey came and went after three plays and a punt. The Sauras ran out the remaining two and half minutes of the game to secure their second win on the season.
“I was really looking for them to fake punt on that last play and they didn’t,” Holmes said. “We were able to get a few first downs and run the clock out. I’m proud of our guys.”
McMillan led the Sauras with 148-yards rushing on 17-carries and two touchdowns, while Moses gained 93-yards on 25-carries and one touchdown. PJ Samuel had the other touchdown for South on a 6-yard reception from Austin Lilly.
Leading five Sauras in double digit tackles was Steven Fatz with 19, Cooper Ross 13, Lucas Covington 12, Kaleb Bratton 11 and Rodgers 10.
The Sauras (2-4) will open Northwest 1A Conference play on October 6 when they celebrate homecoming against Winston-Salem Prep. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.
Robert Money can be reached at 336-749-1193.