First Posted: 11/13/2009
BOONVILLE Surry Central made the playoffs, but no one expected them to make noise.
While Central fell a little short of an improbable first-round upset, it gave No. 1 seeded Starmount all it could handle Friday night, losing to the Rams 20-17.
After leading 10-7 at the half, Central stayed with Starmount until quarterback Jake Barrs interception return for a touchdown pushed the Ram lead to 20-10 late in the fourth quarter.
The Golden Eagles didnt cave and mounted a scoring drive of their own to pull back within a field goals difference.
Central stopped Starmount on its next possession, but with no timeouts remaining, the Eagles sputtered on offense and gave the ball back to end the game.
Eagles coach Monty Southern said just a few instances proved to be the difference in the game. He credited the play of Barr, who the Rams put at tailback in a surprising move, with giving Starmount the edge it needed to win.
They just made about two more big plays than us tonight, he said.
After just slipping into the playoffs with a win over South Stokes in its final regular season game, Central was pegged with the No. 16 seed and a trip to Boonville.
But Southern said from the start of the week, his team truly believed it could stay with the Rams. He said Fridays performance showed just what a team can do with grit and determination.
Honestly, it was we had a great week of prep and our kids heart, Southern said of what gave his team a chance to win. Our kids just fought like their lives were on the line. They really did. Right until the very end.
I dont know, we were really ready to play, Southern continued. Not saying they werent but our kids really believed. A 16-seed isnt supposed to beat a No. 1 seed. But our kids really did believe they could and thats exactly how they played. They just played with a lion heart all game. Thats what kept us in it, that our kids played so hard.
Another critical play in the game came on a botched Central punt snap. The Eagles successfully kicked the ball away, but the play was flagged because of too few men on the field, forcing them to kick again. The ensuing snap was wild and Starmount took over in Central territory, promptly scoring.
For Central, Dave Wilmoth had 16 rushes for 87 yards and was 6-for-25 passing for 44 yards and two interceptions. Casey Felts had eight carries for 81 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown run.
Jose Diaz had a 35-yard field goal for the Eagles, and Blake Stanley recovered a fumble in the end zone for a score.
Despite a tough loss, Southern was not at all discouraged with the play of his team.
Im super proud, he said. The thing that I like the most is that we pulled up a lot of sophomores because we wanted them to experience the playoffs and with the juniors we have and those sophomores we pulled up, these seniors showed a great example of what working hard and believing can do. Its one thing to work hard and another to come out on another teams field and your 2-9 on the season and take them right to the edge of an upset. You cant do that if you dont believe. Our seniors set an unbelievable example tonight for our underclassmen.