A rivalry renewed.
Reidsville and Mount Airy, bitter rivals during from the 30s to the 60s, met for the first time since 1970 Friday night at Community Stadium and the Rams used a dominating second half to turn back the Granite Bears 45-14.
Back in 1970, the two schools were conference foes in a 3-A conference. More recently, both have been among the most successful programs in the state – Mount Airy as a 1-A school and Reidsville in 2-A. The Rams have a 53-2 record the last four seasons and Mount Airy owns a 43-6 mark over the same span.
Friday’s victory enabled the Rams to snap back from last week’s 55-49 loss to East Surry, a member of the same Northwest 1-A Conference that Mount Airy belongs to. Reidsville is now 6-1 heading into an open date on the schedule with Mid-State 2-A league play following the break. Mount Airy will take a 4-2 record into its conference opener Friday against North Stokes.
This one certainly wasn’t one-sided all the way. Reidsville needed a 20-yard field goal by sophomore Anthony Franson on the final play of the first half to take a 16-14 lead.
The Granite Bears, featuring the running of senior Johnathon Smith, had given the Rams all they wanted in the first half. A series of costly penalties and a fumble helped the visitors along.
“They did a good job of controlling us early on,” RHS coach Jimmy Teague said. “We had to work for all we got.”
Reidsville scored first on a 5-yard run by Kwame Davis, but Mount Airy got even on a 15-yard halfback pass from Smith to a wide-open Josh Penn. The Rams went up again on a 42-yard connection from junior QB Kyle Pinnix to junior receiver Breon Pass. The extra point attempt was blocked after a high snap.
Mount Airy claimed a 14-13 lead on a 14-yard pass from Zeb Stroup to Kaulin Smith. With time winding down, the Rams drove to the one-yard line. An incomplete pass stopped the clock with only two tenths of a second left and Franson came on to kick the go-ahead field goal.
Reidsville’s offense added four TDs in the second half to break the game open, but it was the play of the revamped defense that had special significance.
“We felt like after last week’s game, we were not quite up to speed like we like to play,” Teague said of the RHS defense. “We moved some guys around and it took them a little while to get comfortable. You could see in the second half that they got more comfortable.”
Kyree Hayes was moved to outside linebacker and Lionel Long and Stevian Harrison became defensive ends, Jiheem Hooper took his place at linebacker and Auldon Edwards switched to free safety.
“The fumbles and penalties hurt us in the first half, but I was very pleased in the second half,” Teague said.
“We were taking too many mistakes,” said Long, a senior two-way starter. “It was just the little mistakes that we had to correct.”
Long, who rushed for 111 yards on 15 carries, redeemed himself for the fumble that set up the Bears’ second TD. His determined running was a highlight of the second half, especially a 10-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter that enabled the Rams to put the game away.
“I was just trying to get a running lane and do whatever I could to reach the end zone,” Long said of the run where he shredded three or four tackle attempts.
Reidsville had built on the one-point halftime margin with a 36-yard end-around run by Breon Pass and a 49-yard dash by Jalen Galloway after he took a short pass from Pinnix.
It was the 26th TD pass of the season for Pinnix while Galloway – Reidsville’s No. 2 quarterback – became the ninth different Ram receiver to find the end zone.
Seth Jeffries capped the Reidsville scoring with a 1-yard run midway through the fourth quarter.
Pinnix finished 18 of 27 for 261 yards. Pass was on the receiving end eight times for 115 yards and his busy night also included the 36-yard TD run and 62 yards on three punt returns.
The Rams ended with 551 total yards (290 rushing, 261 passing) while the Granite Bears were limited to 127. Smith, Mount Airy’s star senior who was averaging 186 yards rushing in the first five games, ended with 59 yards on 17 carries.
Reidsville, in the midst of a six-game home stand, will open conference play against Carrboro, which is 4-1. An overtime loss to Chapel Hill is the only blemish on the Jaguars’ ledger. Carrboro plays winless Graham this week.