South Stokes scored first, but then Mount Airy replied with four straight touchdowns on the way to a 35-13 win Friday night.
A loss would have dropped the Bears into a three-way tie for first with South Stokes and North Surry, but the win keeps the Bears undefeated in Northwest play and assures the Granite City another league title.
The Bears can lock up the conference title outright with a win on Senior Night against East Surry. A loss could allow either the Greyhounds or Sauras a chance to tie for the top mark, but the Bears have beaten both teams and would take any tiebreakers.
Coach Kelly Holder said after the game that his team was short on players because of injuries.
Getting the special-teams unit on the field looked like a Chinese fire drill, he joked.
He pointed to a great defensive play by Julian Rawley as a turning point in the game.
In the first quarter, standout running back Jacquan Martin broke free from 25 yards out to give the Sauras a 7-0 lead with 6:39 left.
The Bears would march down the field and finish a drive of their own with quarterback Austin Taylor finding Darius Gwyn in the right corner of the end zone from 11 yards out. With a Mitchell Brown kick, the score was tied with 10:26 before halftime.
The Bear defense stopped the Sauras and got the ball back. However, Taylor fumbled the ball in South Stokes territory.
The Sauras had a chance to take the lead, but on the first play, QB J.J. Davis was picked off by Rawley, who ran 29 yards for a score and a 14-7 Mount Airy lead with 3:56 before the half.
In the third quarter, the Bears put together a good drive and finished it off with a play-action pass from Taylor to Garrett VanHoy from a yard out. That made it 21-7 with 7:34 left in third.
After another Sauras turnover, the Bears smelled blood. They went to the air with Gwyn racing in with a 54-yard TD from Taylor. About a minute and a half after the previous score, the Bears led 28-7.
Early in the fourth quarter, South Stokes scored to cut the lead to 28-13, but the extra point missed.
Then the Bears put together a long drive that ate up seven minutes of clock before Andrew Jones scored on a fullback dive from a yard out for the final margin.