RONDA - For the second-straight week, East Wilkes was involved in a Friday night thriller.
But for the second-straight week, the Cardinals came up on losing end.
East’s late fourth-quarter comeback drive came up just short as Surry Central hung on for the wild 28-21 victory to stun the home crowd in Ronda once again.
The Golden Eagles, coming off a shutout loss to East Surry in the opener, jumped on the board first as Raymond Salazar rushed 33 yards for the score. Alex Martin followed with a 35-yard keeper to give Surry Central a 14-0 advantage in the first.
East, looking to bounce back from a heart-breaking 51-50 loss to South Stokes last week, responded early in the second as Levi Ray broke free on a 61-yard run to cut the deficit in half at 14-7.
Salazar built on the halftime lead, plowing in from one yard out to open the third, pushing the lead to 21-7 - a lead the Eagles took to the fourth quarter.
Still trailing by 14 with five minutes to play, Ray jump-started a frantic last-minute comeback for the Cardinals. Ray raced 25 yards for his second touchdown of the evening, trimming the deficit to 21-14.
Martin answered for the Eagles when he found paydirt again to put the visitors back up by two scores with just 2:38 left in the game.
But the Cardinals came storming back. Ray bulldozed in from one yard out for his third score of the night to bring East within seven with 1:46 left.
East Wilkes then recovered the ensuing onside kick at Surry Central’s 35 yard line to give the home team a shot at the game-tying score.
The Cards calmly converted a fourth-and-seven to keep their hopes alive down the stretch. But the Eagles’ defense stood tall and ended the comeback bid to notch their first win of the season.
East will head into its bye week with an 0-2 record. Central (1-1) travels to Wilkes Central next week.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.