Rams surge past Cards in penalty-riddled game
PILOT MOUNTAIN — Starmount used a balanced offensive effort and held East Surry’s offense in check to cruise to a 42-8 win Friday night and improve to 2-0.
The Rams, coming off a 50-23 win that ended Mount Airy’s 34-game regular season win streak last week, gave the Cardinals fits in a game that was also plagued by a 26 combined penalties. Three flags kept the Rams from scoring touchdowns on runs of 78, 67 and 72 yards in the first half.
The two teams were flagged 13 times each for a total of 210 penalty yards. The three potential scoring runs that were called back would have added another 217 offensive yards to the Rams’ 335-211 margin.
“Thirteen is way too many and the bad thing about them is that they were all at big times,” coach Scott Johnson of Starmount said. “But our kids got after it, competed and were very physical.”
WATCH WXII12.COM VIDEO FROM THE GAME: Starmount Rams Roll East Surry – Video – WXII The Triad.
M.J. Bryant scored two touchdowns and gained a game-high 100 yards on 10 carries, while Israel Murphy added 147 offensive yards and a touchdown reception for Starmount. Bryant, Murphy and Fondae McDanel, who added a rushing touchdown of his own, all appeared to score on big runs before flags negated the Rams from pulling away in the game’s first 20 minutes.
Starmount took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter behind touchdown runs from Bryant and Eugene Billips, but the Cardinals cut it to 14-8 with their biggest play from scrimmage in the second quarter.
East quarterback Ryan Johnson, who completed 7 of 15 attempts for 94 yards, connected with Kyle Shinault for a 37-yard touchdown strike. The extra-point snap was off target, but Johnson scooped it up and ran in the conversion.
As soon as East had seemed to take the momentum, the Rams got it right back on a play that could have easily tied the score. Starmount quarterback Jake Barr threw a pass down field toward Israel Murphy. East’s Shinault looked poised to pick off the pass and return it deep in Starmount’s territory, but instead tipped the ball to Murphy, who raced into the end zone for a 67-yard strike.
Ben O’Donnell, who hit all five of his point-after attempts, made it 21-8 at the half.
“I think a couple of times the ball literally bounced the wrong way for us,” Coach David Diamont of East said. “You know the touchdown before the half I thought was going to be a pick in the other direction, but that’s the way it is in football. It’s always exciting, interesting, unpredictable and you never know what 16- and 17-year-old kids are going to do.”
Diamont did know what Starmount was going to do in the second half. The Rams, which finished with 268 rushing yards, added three more touchdowns on two rushing scores and a 75-yard fumble return from Barr.
Diamont said East’s inability to run the ball against Starmount’s front made things tough for his offense.
“Their defensive linemen knocked us off the ball,” the veteran East coach said. “They put the line of scrimmage in our backfield. That prevent us from doing anything we try to do running the football. We could not get to their linebackers because their linemen were knocking our offensive linemen around.
“We felt like we had to move the football on the ground in order to be able to throw the play-action pass. We quickly found out we could not run the football. We tried a number of things, several plays that we put in, and most were successful, but I think Starmount has speed, they have an attitude and they have speed. If they stay healthy they are going to be a very good football team.”
The Rams also used a balanced ground game to wear down the Cardinals, using eight different backs in the win.
“We were able to mix it up and have different folks to touch the football, which is one of our strengths,” Johnson said. “That gives people a lot to be concerned about with us. I was pleased with how we ran the ball but we’ve still got to shore up our O-line … but it’s getting better. It’s still early.”
Diamont, a coach and former politician, mixed praise with satire when asked about which side of the ball the Rams proved more impressive against his team.
“I was impressed with their athletes and they had a lot of kids that went both ways,” Diamont said. “Sometimes I thought we tried to wear them out by letting them score long touchdown runs, but even that didn’t slow them down.”
Starmount 42, East Surry 8
Friday * at Pilot Mountain
Starmount 14 7 7 14 — 42
East Surry 0 8 0 0 — 8
S — Bryant 41 run (O’Donnell kick) 5:29
S — Billips 3 run (O’Donnell kick) 1:15
ES — Shinault 37 pass from Johnson (Johnson run) 4:01
S — Murphy 67 pass from Barr (O’Donnell kick) 2:39
S — Bryant 27 run (O’Donnell kick) 10:45
S – McDaniel 17 run (O’Donnell kick) 8:23
S – Barr 75 fumble return (O’Donnell kick) 5:49
Starmount 335 Yards
Rushing – Bryant 10-100, McDaniel 5-27, McCracken 2-3, Barr 5-24, Murphy 7-80, Billips 1-3, Weatherman 2-23, Vestal 1-3.
Passing – Barr 1-4 67
Receiving – Murphy 1-67
East Surry 211 Yards
Rushing – Moore 15-55
Passing – Johnson 7-15-94
Records: Starmount 2-0, East Surry 1-1.