Third down conversions were the key to Mount Airy’s 34-15 victory Friday over Carroll County in Hillsville, but none were bigger than a 33-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter.
Holding a slim 10-7 lead early in the second half, the Bears were facing a seemingly impossible 3rd and Goal from the Carroll County 33. But quarterback Logan Holder rolled left and defied the odds, hitting a streaking Caleb Horton in stride in the end zone for a touchdown to put Mount Airy up 17-7.
Before handing over the keys to the offense to its second-team unit late in the fourth quarter, Mount Airy was successful on 6 of 10 third-down conversions and 1-of-1 on fourth down attempts.
“Defensively it seemed like it would be 3 and 13 or whatever and we were giving up too many third down plays. It was 3rd and 33 down here and those types of plays, it breaks your back,” Carroll County head coach Tom Hale said. “We are right in the game. It’s a 10-7 game for goodness sakes and we’ve got them stopped on 3rd and 33, and we just made a mistake. It’s just unfortunate but we made a mistake.”
Connor Lundy threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns for the Cavaliers, but Carroll County (1-1) let a couple of opportunities slip away early. After driving 31 yards into Mount Airy territory on the first possession of the game, a holding penalty killed a promising drive.
Carroll got the ball back two plays after punting when Blake Dalton intercepted a Holder pass at the Cavalier 40, but Carroll coughed it up two plays later on a fumble. The Bears capitalized by going 42 yards on seven plays, capped by Devontae Dobson’s 4-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead late in the opening quarter.
Mount Airy took advantage of another Cavalier miscue early in the second after the Carroll defense forced a stop. The Cavs muffed the ensuing punt, giving the Bears the ball at midfield to set up Mitchell Brown’s 44-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead with 4:31 left in the half.
Carroll got back in the game two plays later when Lundy rolled right and hit Ethan Underwood in stride on a beautiful pass that he broke 70 yards for a touchdown. Chase Goins’ extra point cut Mount Airy’s lead to 10-7 with 3:42 left.
The Bears turned the ball over on a fumble three plays later. Carroll drove down to the Mount Airy 14 but again couldn’t capitalize after a 15-yard offensive pass interference penalty stalled the drive.
Carroll County only had the ball for four plays in a third quarter highlighted by the Bears’ 33-yard touchdown pass on 3rd and Goal.
“We didn’t get enough offensive possessions, so we never really got on track it seemed like,” Hale said. “They had good size and they had good skill. They always have and I guess I am disappointed that we didn’t do better defensively. Up until five minutes to go, we only had two possessions I think in the second half. We got one possession in the third quarter. Our offense, we have to have possessions. We really can’t get on track and see what they are giving us. It’s disappointing. I really felt like we can do better than we did tonight and we are going to have to.”
Dobson opened the fourth quarter with his second touchdown, this time on a 13-yard scoring run, to put Mount Airy in front 24-7. Brown added a 38-yard field goal to extend the Bears’ lead to 20.
Carroll made one final closing effort as Lundy hooked up with Josh Blankenship on an 81-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline. Lundy also found Duncan Reece for the two-point conversion to trim the deficit to 27-15 with 2:38 to play.
Mount Airy recovered the onside kick, however, and E.J. Helton later added a 28-yard touchdown run to seal the victory for the Bears.
Holder completed 11-of-18 passes for 152 yards to lead Mount Airy, which rolled up 374 yards of total offense.
Carroll County will try to get back on track this Friday when it plays in the first River Ridge District contest in school history at Blacksburg (0-1).
Mt. Airy 7 3 7 17 - 34
Carroll0 7 0 8 - 15
MA – D. Dobson 4 run (Brown kick)
MA – Brown 44 field goal
CC – Underwood 70 pass from Lundy (Goins kick)
MA – Horton 33 pass from Holder (Brown kick)
MA – D. Dobson 13 run (Brown kick)
MA – Brown 38 field goal
CC – Blankenship 81 pass from Lundy (Reece pass from Lundy)
MA – Helton 28 run (Brown kick)
First Downs 1713
Passing Yards 152266
Penalties-Yards 9-85 4-45
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 2-2
RUSHING – D. Dobson 20-90, Helton 5-52, Jones 7-42, Simmons 1-3, Team 1-minus 2, Walser 2-minus 6, Holder 6-minus 7.
PASSING – Holder 11-18-1 152 yds.
RECEIVING – Horton 5-86, Rawley 4-43, D. Dobson 1-12, Palfreeman 1-11.
RUSHING – Blankenship 6-9, Edwards 4-6, Underwood 3-0, Lundy 6-minus 16.
PASSING – Lundy 14-38-0 266 yds.
REEIVING – Blankenship 1-81, Underwood 1-70, Reece 5-48, Bowman 3-28, Haga 1-25, Edwards 1-6, Dalton 1-4, Davis 1-4.