East Wilkes rallies for OT win against Eagles
RONDA — The ball was just floating near East Wilkes’ Caleb Shoupe twice late in Friday’s game against Surry Central.
The first time, he snatched an ill-advised heave away from a defensive back and turned what was a sure interception into a momentum-changing completion that led to a game-tying touchdown.
But it was the second time that ignited a celebration on the sidelines and sent head coach Monty Chipman running and bouncing across the field.
Shoupe, a linebacker on East Wilkes’ defense, blew up a fourth-down trick play and sealed a 29-22 overtime victory in the Cardinals’ home opener.
After East Wilkes (1-1) scored a touchdown on its overtime possession, and with the Golden Eagles down to their last play at the Cardinals’ 3-yard line in the extra session, quarterback Alex Wilmoth pitched the ball to a running back — who was met instantaneously by Shoupe with a helmet in his chest.
“I read toss, and (Chipman) told me that if I read toss to get there. I got outside the guy because I knew he couldn’t block me,” Shoupe said.
The back tried to throw the ball in the end zone, but was dragged down before the trick play could develop.
“I thought on that third-down play, we had to get a little bit closer,” Surry Central coach Monty Southern said. “ We tried to hit them with a little halfback pass. I think he just saw sweep coming at him and he just got to our halfback before he could throw it. Shoupe played a great game all night and with the game on the line he made a great play.”
Surry Central (0-2) trailed 15-9 at halftime but took control of the game with a pair of third-quarter touchdowns. Wilmoth connected with Dillon Carter on a 38-yard touchdown strike barely two minutes into the second half. Carter got a step on the defensive back and Wilmoth delivered a perfect pass on the hands for the score.
Wilmoth scored on a 10-yard option keeper later in the third quarter, two plays after Dillon Brown intercepted a pass from East Wilkes quarterback Steven Gregory. After the return and an East Wilkes’ unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the Golden Eagles took possession inside the Cardinals’ 25-yard line. Surry Central’s two-point conversion following Wilmoth’s touchdown failed, leaving the game a one-possession difference, 22-15.
The Cardinals had a dramatic and much-needed answer on their next drive.
After back-to-back runs for negative yards and facing a third-and-12 at the Golden Eagles’ 45-yard line, Gregory heaved a pass deep down the middle of the field into double coverage. Wilmoth, playing safety, appeared to intercept the pass until Shoupe met him on the way down and wrestled the ball away, giving the Cardinals’ a first-and-goal inside the Golden Eagles’ 10-yard line.
“(Wilmoth) pretty much caught it and I just took it out of his hands on the way down,” Shoupe said. “Steven just threw it up and I went and I got it.”
Two plays later, Landon Walker scored his third of four touchdowns in the game. Walker was a work-horse for the Cardinals, carrying the ball 35 times for 229 yards – nearly matching his 270-yard explosion in last week’s season-opening loss at West Davidson. According to Walker, the heavy workload is nothing new – in fact he prefers it.
“I love football and I like having the ball in my hands,” Walker said. “Last year, on JV, I averaged touching the ball almost 40 times a game and ran for almost 3,000 yards. I thought I’d have a big game against West Davidson, but I didn’t know about doing it again so soon.”
The Cardinals’ nearly completed their fourth-quarter comeback in regulation after a nearly seven-minute drive melted away most of the clock and put them in position to try a long field goal by Gregory. But Gregory’s 47-yard attempt fell just short.
“I was completely confident that he could make that,” Chipman said. “He hits that in practice and has a really strong leg and put a good kick on that one.”
Despite the win, the Cardinals’ coach knows there’s plenty to improve upon – especially after three turnovers and a couple of big penalties.
“We didn’t play our best, threw some interceptions, but we’ll get better,” Chipman said. “A game like this, a good tough game will get you ready for conference.”
Wilmoth had a huge all-around game for Golden Eagles’ in the loss. He only completed 5-of-11 passes, but threw for 166 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown to Jesse Martin in the first quarter. Wilmoth also had a big third-down tackle for loss and an interception.
“He’s obviously not very big, and not real fast, but he’s got a champion’s heart,” Southern said. “He never takes a play off. We played him a little more that we liked to, but we had linebackers going down with some cramping issues, and he’s one of our best defensive players. He makes plays on both sides of the ball.”
East Wilkes 29, Surry Central 22 (OT)
Friday, Aug. 27 * at Ronda
Surry Central 9 0 13 0 0 – 22
East Wilkes 7 8 0 7 7 – 29
SC – Rudy Valladores 27 field goal 5:55
EW—Landon Walker 13 run (Steven Gregory kick) 2:15
SC – Jesse Martin 65 pass from Alex Wilmoth (kick blocked) 1:00
EW – Walker 58 run (McKinney White pass from Steven Gregory) 3:56
SC – Dillon Carter 38 pass from Wilmoth (Valladores kick) 9:49
SC – Wilmoth 10 run (run failed) 3:00
EW – Walker 4 run (Gregory kick) 10:47
EW – Walker 4 run (Gregory kick)
Surry Central – Alex Wilmoth 5-11-1 166 yards 2TDs
East Wilkes – Steven Gregory 4-13-2 62 yards
Surry Central – Alex Wilmoth 11-32, Jared Dimmette 3-4, Jesse Martin 6-46, Wes Brown 11-38, Tyler White 1-3
East Wilkes – Landon Walker 35-229 4TDs, Jesse White 7-46, Caleb Stroupe 6-27, Garnett Miller 1-3, Steven Gregory 2-(-3)
Surry Central – Jesse Martin 1-65 TD, Dillon Carter 2-45 TD, Jared Dimmette 1-31, Bradley Lewis 1-25
East Wilkes – Jacob Stroupe 4-62
Surry Central (0-2), East Wilkes (2-0)