South Stokes landed the first punch against Alleghany on Friday night. The undefeated Trojans answered with a series of punishing body blows of their own for four quarters.
Alleghany’s powerful rushing attack proved to be the difference as the Sauras fell 35-20 in a nonconference matchup. South, coming off a win against North Stokes that snapped a 19-game losing streak, fell to 1-3 on the season.
The Trojans (4-0) rushed 64 times for 365 yards.
“Give (Alleghany) credit for sticking with the game plan,” Sauras coach Paul Hall said. “They lean on you, lean on you, run down on you, run down on you. I don’t know how many times (Tristen Villaruel) ran the ball, but when you thought he was slowing down a little bit, they stuck it in (Kaleb Redd’s) belly and he’s over there in the A-gap. It’s frustrating, but our kids dug and they fought.”
Villaruel led the way with 42 carries for 202 yards and five touchdowns. Kaleb Redd also eclipsed the century mark for the Trojans with 13 carries for 134 yards.
Trey Scales opened the game with a 40-yard return for the Sauras, who got first-down runs from Kain Thomas and Michal Phillips. Quarterback Austin Lilly put South on the scoreboard with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Scales in the right corner of the end zone. The Sauras couldn’t convert the extra point and led 6-0 just 44 seconds into the contest.
Alleghany got off to a shaky start — QB Brett Pope fumbled a high snap for a big loss on the Trojans’ first offensive play, and they would eventually have to punt. Scales had a big return negated by a penalty, and on South’s third play, Marcos Castillo recovered a Thomas fumble.
After 3-and-outs from both teams, the Trojans put together a 10-play, 50-yard drive that featured a steady dose of Villaruel. His 3-yard touchdown at the 11:55 mark of the second quarter evened things at 6.
Neither team scored again for the rest of the first half.
John Williams had a couple of nice defensive plays in coverage to halt a drive by the Trojans, and Keaton Albertson intercepted Lilly on a pass intended for Scales late in the second quarter.
After picking up three first downs in the first minute of the game, the Sauras didn’t move the chains until the final seconds of the third quarter.
“We’ve got to have more consistency on the offensive side of the ball, and that’s what we’ll work on,” Hall said.
“We’ll continue to get our defense better.”
The Trojans opened the third quarter with a 10-play, 80-yard drive capped off by Villaruel’s 10-yard TD run. He added the two-point conversion for a 14-6 lead with 6:43 to go in the quarter.
Alleghany got a huge break in the final couple minutes of the third.
Senior linebacker Mason Dutton stopped Villaruel for a loss, then Pope threw an incomplete pass on second down.
On third and long, Pope rolled out on a busted play under heavy pressure from the Sauras defense. Josh Edwards managed to get free downfield and hauled in a 50-yard completion.
Dutton injured his right knee on the play and had to be carried off the field. Coach Hall said Friday he wasn’t sure of the extent of the injury. Two plays later, Villaruel was in the end zone again — this time from 5 yards out. Fernando Torres split the uprights on the extra point for a 21-6 Trojans lead.
South refused to go away.
Zach Slate gave the Sauras some life with a 25-yard return, and Jonah Moorefield’s 54-yard touchdown reception from Lilly made it 21-13 after Caro’s extra point with 13.3 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Alleghany drove inside the red zone on its next possession, but South’s Tanner Moore stopped Villaruel on fourth down and the Sauras took over.
Their next possession was a disaster. Lilly was nearly picked off on second down, South lost 5 yards on a fumble and had a penalty. The Sauras punted from their own end zone to give Alleghany solid field position. Villaruel’s fourth touchdown run of the night put the Trojans ahead 28-13 with 3:39 left.
Lilly completed passes to Moorefield and Slate, and then Caleb Brewster took a lateral throw 57 yards for a touchdown with 2:29 on the clock. Caro’s extra point made it 28-20.
Alleghany recovered the onside kick, and on the second offensive play, Redd broke free for a 44-yard run. Villaruel scored his fifth touchdown with 57.3 seconds left.
Lilly was 5 of 16 passing for 112 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Pope was 2 of 8 for 50 yards.
South lost two fumbles in the game. The Sauras finished with 88 rushing yards on 19 carries.
Hall said afterward his defense hung in there and that he was proud of his team for not quitting.
“We’ve got guys that can run and can move. I think we’ll surprise some people. We had opportunities, but put our defense’s backs against the wall …
“We’ll live for another day, and go play hard. These kids are playing hard. We are going to win some more football games. It will be a different situation (this) week. Bishop (McGuinness) spreads you out, throws it all the time.”