WEST JEFFERSON — Starmount shook up the Mountain Valley Conference once again Friday night in West Jefferson.
The Rams knocked Ashe County from the ranks of the unbeatens with a come-from-behind 20-13 victory to pull into a three-way tie atop the league standings.
Heading into the regular-season finale this week, Starmount, Ashe and North Wilkes are tied for first place at 5-1 each. The three teams are 1-1 against each other.
Coming off a hard-fought 34-20 win over North, the Huskies carried the momentum over into Friday’s contest, jumping out to a quick 13-0 advantage. Conner Bowers tossed a pair of touchdown passes to give Ashe an early lead.
But from then on, it was all Starmount.
Offensively, the Rams wore down Ashe’s defense with 51 rushing attempts in the game to claw their way back in.
Zach Freed got Starmount on the board with a score before Nick Gunnell booted home a pair of field goals to draw even at 13-13 with four minutes left in the game.
The Ram defense then turned in the play of the game, forcing a Husky fumble deep in their own territory to set up Starmount at the 5-yard line.
On the next play, Will Simpson found pay dirt to give the Rams their first lead of the game at 20-13.
The senior tallied 63 yards on the night on 17 carries to lead the team, while Freed added 26 rushing yards and 32 passing yards. Aaron Skeens tacked on 24 yards on the ground, while Joe Walker and John Johnson added 21 and 19 rushing yards, respectively.
After the quick start to the game, Ashe only managed four more first downs over the final three quarters as Starmount’s D responded to notch the all-important victory.
The Rams improved to 7-3 on the season overall and 5-1 in league play, while the Huskies fell to 6-4 and 5-1. North Wilkes leads the way with an 8-2 overall mark.
Starmount can clinch a share of the conference title Friday on Senior Night when Alleghany (6-4, 4-2) comes to town.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.