PILOT MOUNTAIN — The West Stokes Wildcats drove nine miles up the road Friday night and faced rival East Surry in what is always a battle between the two schools. Devan Hairston, senior running back for West Stokes, rushed four 292 yards and four touchdowns in leading the visitors to a 45-28 victory.
The Cardinals, trying to extend their winning streak to three straight victories over the Cats, took the momentum early and scored with just two minutes off the game clock. Quarterback Trevor Hauser found fullback Garrett Barker for a 27-yard reception on one of East Surry’s favorite plays. Kicker Ryan Sutterby spilt the uprights for a 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Purple Cats went to work on offense. They used a nine-play drive starting at the 37-yard line and drove the distance for paydirt. Hairston scored his first touchdown on the evening from eight yards out. The Wildcats decided to go for two, but failed. leaving the Redbirds in the lead at 7-6 with 6:12 left in the quarter.
The Wildcats’ defense stiffened the Cardinals on their next drive forcing a three and out, but a botched punt return by West left East Surry with a first-and-goal at the 9-yard line. Not wasting any time, the Cardinals tacked on a 5-yard touchdown pass to Wesley Marion. The Cards tacked on the extra point for a 14-6 lead with 3:54 left.
Sutterby had a touchback, forcing the Wildcats to start from their own 20-yard line. Facing a third-and-six, quarterback Reid Fulk found Josh Grubb coming out of the backfield for a 33-yard pickup, giving the Cats a first down. Two plays later, Hairston broke around the right end for a 41-yard touchdown dash. Hairston converted on the extra point tying the score at 14.
“He has really stepped into his own,” stated West Stokes head coach Jimmy Upchurch. “Going into the season we knew for us to be successful, Devan was going to have to be one of those kids to step up, and he has.”
In the second quarter, the Wildcats exploded on the scoreboard with three more touchdowns and converted the two-point attempts on all of them. The first touchdown came at the 10-minute mark of the quarter, when freshman Chris Brown jetted 32-yards for his first career high school touchdown. On East Surry’s next possession, they faced a third-and-seven, but Wildcat junior Tyler Walker stepped in front of Hauser’s pass attempt and took it 45 yards for a pick six.
“Walker is another one of those special players, a game changer,” said Upchurch. “Teams have to plan around him, and he is one of the smartest kids I have ever coached. Before he leaves West Stokes, he will be the all-time tackle leader.”
On the third and final touchdown of the quarter, the Wildcats scored on Hairston’s 17-yard burst up the middle. East Surry sandwiched a score in between, making the halftime score 38-20.
After a scoreless third quarter for both teams, the Wildcats started the fourth quarter on their own 1-yard line. Forcing a punt from their end zone, the Cardinals received excellent field position in their first possession of the quarter. They marched 37 yards and scored on a fourth-and-11 when Hauser hooked up with Conner Sheets out of the backfield.
“We had just told our kids to watch out for that play. We had him covered up, but Conner is such an athletic kid (that) we were unable to tackle him,” commented Upchurch.
East Surry’s successful two-point conversion pulled them within 10 points, at 38-28.
On the next drive for West Stokes, they gave the Cardinals a heavy dose of Hairston and Grubb. Hairston finally scored on a 48-yard run on the eighth play of the drive. Fulk connected on the first extra point of his career, giving the Wildcats the final score of 45-28.
The Wildcats totaled 425 yards of offense, with 363 of those on the ground. Hairston carried the ball 31 times for his 292 yards, making him fourth on the career rushing list at West with a total of 2,314 yards with seven regular season games left. Fulk only attempted seven passes, completing three of them for 62 yards. East Surry had 302 yards of offense with running back Joey Ray leading the way. He had 164 yards rushing on 21 attempts. The Cardinals’ dual quarterback tandem of Sheets and Hauser finished with seven catches on 18 attempts with two interceptions.
Leading the Wildcats in defense was Walker with 11 tackles, two for a loss, and an interception return for a touchdown. Parker Pratt also contributed 11 tackles with a sack and three tackles for a loss. Leading the East Surry defense was Sheets, with 11 tackles.
“I’m really proud of our kids tonight,” said Upchurch. “We have faced some adversity this week and I think our kids have grown from it. I’m really pleased with the way we responded and hopefully we will have no let downs from here.”
West Stokes will face Walkertown (1-3) in a televised game by Time Warner Cable on Thursday evening at 7:30pm. East Surry (2-2) is off for a week before traveling to Atkins (0-4) on Sept. 23.