With Hurricane Florence threatening to hit the area on Friday, West Stokes and East Surry moved their annual rival game to Wednesday night at the newly named David H. Diamont Stadium in Pilot Mountain. After a late surge by the Cardinals in the fourth quarter that knotted the score at 19, quarterback Tyler Smith found Kelin Parsons streaking down the left sideline for a 51-yard winning touchdown reception with 41-seconds left in the game and a 26-19 victory for the visitors.
“I think I just lost 10 years of my life,” said Wildcat coach Jimmy Upchurch. “Our games are always exciting and we are very fortunate to get out of here with a win. Their defensive front was very good and we couldn’t run the ball on them. Turtle (Kelin Parsons) made some unbelievable catches and give Tyler (Smith) credit for some great throws. We let one get away from us last year, so it was nice to bounce back and get the win this year.”
The Wildcats struck first after forcing the Cardinals into a turnover on downs in West territory. The visitors moved 68-yards and scored on a 35-yard pass from Smith to Parsons in the closing seconds of the first quarter. The Cats used the help of a pass interference call and an offside penalty during the drive by East. West led 6-0 after the missed PAT by Caleb Peters.
The Cards forced the Wildcats into another punt at the beginning of the second period. They moved the ball down field when quarterback Stephen Gosnell fumbled and Palmer Elliott scooped it up for the Cats. Three plays later Smith found Parsons again for 45-yards and a 12-0 advantage with 9:27 left before the half.
East earned a chance to cut into the Wildcat lead on their next possession, but a fumble by Gosnell on third-and-goal forced the home team into a field goal attempt. Derek Sutterby’s kick sailed wide left and the Cats held onto a 12-0 lead going into the locker room.
“We had plenty of chances to put the game away in the first half,” Upchurch said. “We forced some turnovers, but couldn’t do anything with them. Again, give credit to their defense for making stops when they needed to.”
West came out of the half and experienced some déjà vu from last season when Dustin Blevins rode a 94-yard kickoff return to pay dirt and a 19-0 edge after Peters knocked down his first extra-point of the night.
The Cardinals finally broke into the scoring column on fourth-and-goal from the one on Matthew Edward’s run. A two-point conversion by Edwards and the score was 19-8 with 2:20 left in the third quarter.
East cut the score to 19-11 on a 33-yard field goal by Sutterby to begin the last period of play. West was given an opportunity to put the game out of reach with five minutes to play in the contest, but a missed field goal gave the Cardinals new life. They marched 80-yards in 13 plays and scored on a six-yard run by Gosnell with 1:23 showing on the clock. Gosnell’s leaping two-point conversion tied the game at 19 and set up the heroics of Smith and Parsons. Zan Sandlin intercepted his second pass of the contest and ended the Cardinals threat at the five yard line as time expired.
Smith threw for 170-yards and three touchdowns on 8-of-20 and no interceptions. Parsons collected 131-yards receiving and three scores. Luke Mickey and Devin Stanley tallied 13 tackles each and Parsons added nine. Cortlen Dutton, Seth Saunders, Tyler Hunter, Aidan Eilas, and Elliott scooped up a fumble each. Gosnell added 101-yards rushing and 98-yards passing in the game for East.
Both East Surry and West Stokes sit at 4-1 on the season as the Cats take a 6-5 advantage over the last 11 years rivalry. The Wildcats open conference play against Walkertown at home on Friday and the Cardinals will welcome Ragsdale. Games are slated to start at 7:30 p.m.
Robert Money can be reached at 336-749-1193.