BOONVILLE - Hosting first-round playoff games tonight, Starmount and Elkin each began their quest for a state title in a big way.
The Rams held off a late Carver surge to advance with the 24-20 win, while the Buckin’ Elks jumped all over Mountain Valley Conference opponent Alleghany en route to a dominating 44-6 victory.
After a scoreless first quarter, Starmount struck first when Samuel Stone floated a pass to Will Simpson out of the backfield for the opening score of the night early in the second.
The Yellow Jackets responded with an 80-yard touchdown strike midway through the quarter. Starmount blocked the ensuing extra point attempt to preserve the one-point lead at 7-6.
Coming out of the half, the Rams used a six-minute drive - highlighted by four third-down pick-ups - to extend their lead with an 8-yard touchdown run by James Watson.
After a Will Lambert interception, Starmount racked up another long drive with three third-down and one fourth-down conversion, capped off by Simspon’s second touchdown of the night to push the lead out to 21-6.
Carver answered quickly with a 40-yard score and two-point conversion to cut the lead to 21-14 with just over 10 minutes left on the clock.
On the next drive, Stone broke free on a 65-yard run up the middle down to the five-yard line. After the drive stalled, Parker Gunnell drilled a 24-yard field goal to extend the lead out to double-digits at 24-14.
In a hurry-up offense, Carver picked their way down the field and found the endzone on a 3-yard strike with 32.2 seconds left in the game. On the two-point conversion, Brady Lamm rocked a Jacket receiver, jarring the ball loose.
Starmount recovered the ensuing onside kick to preserve the victory, 24-14.
The Rams advance to the second round against undefeated East Lincoln next Friday. Starmount knocked the Mustangs out of last year’s playoff in the first round, 21-13.
In Elkin, the Buckin’ Elks turned a 16-6 halftime lead into a 44-6 blowout win over the Trojans.
The Elks will host 5th-seeded Rosman (6-5) in the second round next Friday at Grissom Stadium.
In Bryson City, East Wilkes ran into the buzzsaw that is Swain County. The unbeaten Maroon Devils opened up a 35-0 halftime lead over the Cardinals en route to the 68-22 victory.
Mountain Valley Conference champion Wilkes Central was upset in the first round, 41-21 to Lincolnton. West Wilkes advanced with the 19-14 win over Cherryville.
For full recaps of tonight’s games, check out Monday’s Tribune.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.