BOONVILLE — On paper, the Rams would have been favorites going into their game against West Wilkes on the gridiron. The Rams have the upper hand, as they have a 20-1 all-time record when they face the Hawks. On Friday night, West Wilkes didn’t care about the results on paper, as it took home a 37-14 win over Starmount.
It took two plays in the first quarter for West Wilkes to score its first touchdown of the night. Alex Ortiz opened up the night with a 51-yard touchdown to give the Hawks a 7-0 lead just 51 seconds into the game. The Rams answered back as they drive down the field for a seven-minute drive which started off with Brendon Eads carrying the ball for 20 yards. Eads then came up with an eight-yard catch from Patrick Usher to get another first down. Usher kept the Rams momentum going with a 12-yard run up the middle to get the Rams to the 37-yard line. From there, Starmount kept pushing until they came up on first and goal from the three-yard line. Eads drove into the end-zone to score the first touchdown of the night, the extra point attempt was no good but the Rams had cut the Hawks lead, 7-6.
On West Wilkes’ next drive, it rounded out the first quarter and earned a touchdown just two plays into the second quarter. On third-and-goal, Wilkes’ quarterback Trenton Walsh found Ortiz for a 10-yard touchdown pass. The field goal attempt was blocked by the Rams, and the Hawks took a 13-6 lead with 11:14 left in the second quarter.
The Rams’ next play went three-and-out, and as they were set to punt, the punter bobbled the snap and West Wilkes recovered on the 12-yard line. With a short playing field, the Hawks handed the ball off to Ortiz who scored his third touchdown of the night. The Hawks went for two, but they were denied by the Rams’ defensive line on the three-yard line. With 9:33 left in the second quarter, the Rams were down 19-6.
As Starmount tried to battle back, the Hawks made the most of the holes in the Rams defense. Ortiz scored his fourth touchdown of the night to give the Hawks a 25-6 lead one minute before the half. With the Hawks leading 25-6, the Rams went into the half knowing they would need to fix the holes in their defensive line if they wanted to stay in the game.
The second half started with Starmount on the 28-yard line after Wilkes kicked-off. On third down and five, Peyton Mullins broke two tackles to earn a first down for the Rams. Unfortunately, the Rams drive ended at the 42-yard line and they were forced to punt. As things were looking to go West Wilkes’ way, Eads gave the Rams the touchdown they were looking for as he intercepted the ball and ran for a 45-yard touchdown. Starmount successfully completed its two-point conversion and cut West Wilkes’ lead, 25-14.
With 5:58 left in the third quarter, things were looking up for the Rams as they recovered a fumble on the 38-yard line. The first play saw a loss of a yard for Starmount, but the next play saw a gain of several yards as Henry Stone hauled Usher’s pass in for a great catch to give the Rams a first down. While the catch was a highlight for Starmount, its drive went downhill as West Wilkes’ defense stepped up on the next three plays. The Rams went for it on fourth-and-three but the play was unsuccessful and Wilkes took over on downs.
Before the night was over, Wilkes came up with two more touchdowns. One came in the third quarter with Noah Dancy finding the end-zone. The second touchdown came in the fourth quarter which gave West Wilkes a 37-14 lead. The Rams tried to battle back in the final minutes of the game, but they couldn’t overcome the Hawks’ defense. At the end of the game, Starmount was handed its first conference loss of the season by West Wilkes.
The Rams move to 1-1 in the conference, they will face Wilkes Central (2-0) on Oct. 7. Kickoff is set for 7:30.
Finals from Elkin and East Wilkes:
North Wilkes 28 vs. Elkin 9
East Wilkes 27 vs. Alleghany 6
The Falcons are coming off of a bye week, they will open up their conference schedule against South Stokes on Oct. 7, while Elkin (0-2) will face East Wilkes (2-0).