With the minutes ticking away in the fourth quarter, the Mount Airy Bears football team were unable to mount a comeback against a Rams offense that battered the Bears defensive line and secondary most of the game.
The Mount Airy home opener ended with Starmount taking a 23-13 victory, fueled in part by the Rams ability to dominate the line of scrimmage.
The Bears were tested on the opening drive after they fumbled and the Rams recovered. Starmount turned that into a touchdown, though they missed the extra point in claiming an early 6-0 lead.
Bears returners Devontae Dobson and Isaiah Simmons showed glimpses of speed as they got the ball up field several times. The Bears run game then was often stymied due to the diligence of the Rams secondary, which remained a thorn in the Bears flesh all four quarters.
In the next set of downs, John Dobson with tremendous speed ran down a Starmount receiver within yards of making another touchdown. Linebacker David Sparger then made a stop, and Andrew Jones tackled Rams quarterback Zack Freed for a loss. Bear Jarred Jenkins then made a critical stop preventing another touchdown during the Rams third down. Nick Gunnel then kicked a Rams field goal making the score Rams 9-0.
Near the end of the first quarter, the momentum looked to move in the Bears direction after Sihem Smith recovered a Ram fumble. Several carries by the Bears were stopped and a false start penalty killed the drive. There were more of those moments in the first half that looked to be potential game-changers only for the Bears to beat themselves with penalties.
With around five minutes to go just before the half, the Rams scored a touchdown after breaking through the Bears defensive line for a 16-0 advantage.
Then, on the next possession and just before the half, the Bears finally scored. They attempted a two-point conversion but did not make it. In the drive, Isaiah Simmons returned the ball to the 27-yard line just before a third and final time out was called by Mount Airy.
Caleb Horton then got in several yards, and a run on a hand off by quarterback Logan Holder to E.J. Helton netted positive yards. Holder then tested the Rams defense by airing the ball for the first time in the evening but was unable to connect.
In the next down, Holder hit Julian Rawley, who got to the outside, and ran seven yards up the seam to get the ball in for the first touchdown.
The score was Rams 16-6 going into the half.
Then, in the third quarter Devontae Dobson got the only other Bears touchdown, and the Bears extra point kicked by Mitchell Brown was good. The score was Rams 16-13.
The Rams scored another touchdown in the fourth, after a monumental effort by the Bear’s Helton to hold them on several downs. Rams hit the extra point to win 23-13.
Bears Head Coach Kelly Holder said, “We did not do anything good, we played much better in the scrimmages. DD (Dobson) ran hard but they just outplayed us. We played poorly with 12 penalties, picks and did not protect, defensively we could not stop them. It is humbling, because that is not the best Starmount team I have seen.”
Mount Airy is in the 1A Northwest conference along with East Surry Bishop McGuinness, Walkertown, Atkins and North Stokes. The Bears are scheduled to play Thomasville High School in an away game on Aug. 23.
“Ain’t much to say after that whipping,” Kelly Holder said.