West Stokes kept their stellar season alive Friday night defeating Surry Central 27-23 and finishing their regular season undefeated in WPAC play.
“I’d say we played adequate,” said Wildcats coach Jimmy Upchurch. “I knew going in it wasn’t going to be easy. Anytime we play them, at whatever point in the season it’s a dog fight. They’re a team with a lot of scrap.”
After the first quarter was mostly in favor of the Wildcats, the Golden Eagles clawed their way back into the game and took the lead on two occasions.
At the start, West took the opening kickoff and picked up four first downs on the way to a touchdown. Alex Manley hit Kameron Wall for a 12-yard pass to make it 7-0 with 8:01 left in the first.
After a Central punt, West Stokes was on the move again until Jed Kidd picked off a pass and returned it to midfield.
Jovani Reynoso booted a 33-yard field goal to get Central on the board a minute into the second quarter.
A squib kick was picked up by John Connolly and returned for a touchdown to make it 13-3 with 10:47 left in the half.
With five seconds left until half the Eagles connected for an eight-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 13-19 at the break.
Surry Central got the ball to start the second half and picked up where they left off. Noah Wilmoth ran in a 15-yard touchdown pushing the Eagles lead ahead 17-13 with 8:57 left in the third.
After a trade of punts, West Stokes started on its 37-yard line. On a third-and-7 play, Manley lofted a ball to the left corner of the end zone to Wall. Kidd knocked the ball away, and was flagged for pass interference. Manley then found Wall on a 12-yard slant for a touchdown.
“Kameron had some great catches for us that really helped,” Upchurch said.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles went back up. Kidd got behind Jacob Rosencrans on the right sideline. Safety Jordan Clodfelter had a shot to break up the pass, but missed both the ball and Kidd, who raced into the end zone for a 31-yard TD catch. That made it 23-20 with 9:26 to go.
On the next drive, West Stokes reached midfield, but the Eagles intercepted a pass and had a chance to run some clock.
Alex Helvey sealed the win for the Wildcats with a nine-yard run with 3:59 left in the game. Patrick Ellis added the extra point.
“Alex was hurt a little at one point, but toughed it out and played really hard,” Upchurch said.
Senior Caustin Beckner along with Ty Walker led West Stokes’ defense with 12 tackles each.
The Wildcats host Monroe Parkwood this Friday in the first round of the NCHSAA 2A state playoffs.