Mount Airy ended North Surry’s perfect season with a 24-3 win Friday.
Greyhound Blaze Acord came into the game with gaudy rushing stats, but the Bears found an answer that had eluded others.
In the Hounds’ six-game winning streak, Acord averaged 240 yards per game and had 16 total TDs.
The Bears held the running back to 55 yards in this game and kept the Hounds out of the end zone.
Mount Airy improved to 7-1 and 4-0 in the Northwest Conference. North Surry falls to 6-1, 3-1 in the conference.
This win comes just days after the death of the father of Coach Kelly Holder and team statistician Kevin Holder.
With the head coach taking some bereavement time, it was up to the assistant coaches to prepare the Bears this week.
North Surry’s defense came out stout, holding the Bears without a first down in the first quarter.
The Hounds picked up a couple of first downs, but couldn’t sustain a drive, either, as both teams punted twice.
North started the second quarter with its third punt. Austin Barker sent one high and long toward the left sideline.
Austin Taylor made a couple of defenders miss, but then was stripped of the ball. Dakota Goss knocked the ball out, and Shawn DeHart fell on it at the 26-yard line.
Acord ran the ball twice for eight yards, but then was stopped short on third down at the 17-yard line.
A field goal from there would have been about 34 yards, a distance kicker Carlos Flores has reached before, but Coach Danny Lyons went for it on fourth down.
Acord went wide and tried to turn the corner, but Darius Gwyn and Justin Simmons held him up long enough for help to arrive.
That was a real turning point in the game, believed Lyons.
The Bears’ offense came out fired up and quickly picked up 32 yards on two runs for a couple of first downs.
Mount Airy continued to move the ball down the field to the 26-yard line.
The Hounds had a chance to end the drive when Taylor double-clutched on a deep throw. The hesitation allowed Brady Kraft to cut under receiver Davontae Dobson, but the senior couldn’t pull in the interception.
On the next play, fullback Zaqwan Dobson took his first handoff of the game and broke loose up the gut for a 26-yard TD run with 6:40 left in the half. With a Mitchell Brown kick, the Bears led 7-0.
On the next drive, the Hounds had a chop block move them back to third-and-31.
Acord took a toss right, then fired a deep bomb into double coverage.
Receiver Josh Cox leaped high and got a hand on the ball, but couldn’t pull it in. As the three players dropped to the ground, Cox reached out and pulled the ball in for a catch as the packed visitors’ stands erupted.
On the next play, however, one of the offensive linemen tripped quarterback Austin Handy, who fell down for a second-and-13.
The drive stalled, and on fourth down, the Hounds ran a fake punt that came up a little short for the second turnover on downs with 1:34 left in the half.
Mount Airy got the ball first in the third quarter and began to feature Zaqwan Dobson more.
Coach Holder said line coach Donald Price was encouraging him to use the 5-foot-9, 220-pound runner more.
The Bears moved to the 6-yard line and faced third-and-3. Dobson got the ball, but North’s Katlin Sias fired into the backfield and brought him down to force a field goal. Brown booted the 27-yarder to make it 10-0 with 4:28 left in the third.
Sias and Mount Airy’s Julius Coram each came up several good plays on defense, making their cases for defensive player of the year in the Northwest.
On the following kickoff, Goss took the ball on the right side, broke into the open in the middle of the field and cut back left. He made it all the way to the 10-yard line before two defenders could bring him down.
Three rushing plays yielded only four yards, however, and the Hounds settled for a 23-yard field goal from Carlos Flores with 1:49 left in the third.
It was very nearly a three-point game going into the fourth quarter, and it was still just a one-touchdown game at that time, Coach Lyons said afterward.
North’s defense stopped the Bears at the 41-yard line.
After a punt to the 26-yard line, the Hounds tried a pass on second down that was picked off by Taylor at the 37.
Five runs by Zaqwan ate up all 37 yards as he scored his second TD from seven yards out.
That made it 17-3.
Then on the Bears’ next possession, fullback Andrew Jones broke loose for a 47-yard rumble down to the 2-yard line. From the 1, Taylor ran a keeper for his first rushing TD of the season. That made it 24-3 with just 41 seconds left.
Zaqwan Dobson finished with 109 yards rushing on just 16 carries. Davontae Dobson added 51 yards on nine carries. Jones had 53 yards on four carries, and Taylor had nine rushes for 27 yards. Receiver Darius Gwyn had three end-around carries for 24 yards.
The Bears finished with 255 yards on 42 carries.
The offensive line is getting better all the time, said Holder. The line had question marks at the start of the season, and some kids struggled.
Holder said he has told the boys that they would have to improve through the season for the team to have a chance to advance in the state playoffs.
As for stopping the Hounds’ attack, Holder said, “I think a lot of Blaze, he’s a good player. … He can do a lot of damage if he gets loose.”
However, he added, “I really didn’t think they’d played anybody as strong as we are up front.”
The three points are the fewest scored by the Hounds since 2009. The 27 combined points are the lowest in this rivalry since 1995.
“I did feel like my guys battled for 48 minutes,” said Lyons, and he felt like it was the team’s hardest effort against the rivals in several years.
While the Hounds may be down after the loss, North Surry is still tied for second in the conference with South Stokes, a team it beat just last week.
Next week, the Hounds host Surry Central for Senior Night. Mount Airy travels to Bishop McGuinness.