ELKIN - Starmount played lights-out defense en route to a dominating 44-0 win Friday night over cross-town rival Elkin to capture its sixth-straight Battle of the Bridge trophy.
“Defensively, we played unbelievable tonight,” head coach Scott Johnson said. “I thought we played lights out.”
The Ram offense scored 34 second-half points to blow out the Elks, led by all-conference tailback Chaston Martin.
“When people have an open week before us, they are going to show us we haven’t seen,” Johnson explained. “They came out in that 3-5 [defense] and they coached them up well on what to do with our motions and plays we like to run. It took us a little while for us to figure out what was going on.”
Martin, a Jonesville native, lit up the Elk defense for 166 yards on the ground and three touchdowns, garnering the Battle of the Bridge MVP honors.
“Chaston hurt his shoulder a few weeks ago over at East Surry, it’s nothing to keep him out, but it affected balance and moving his arms and stuff. I told him Tuesday in practice that he is starting to run like he used to,” Johnson said.
“Growing up across the river in Jonesville, I think [winning MVP] means a lot to him. He had to listen to a lot about this game, so I’m sure he’s excited,” he added.
Sergio Sariana (97 yards, 1 TD) and Will Simpson (six-yard touchdown run) teamed up with Martin to power the Ram rushing attack, which racked up over 350 yards on the night.
James Watson added a thrilling 64-yard punt return touchdown in the fourth quarter to seal Starmount’s sixth-straight win in the matchup.
The Ram defense turned in its finest performance of the season, holding Elkin to just 76 yards of total offense on the night, recording its third shutout of the season. Starmount is allowing a mere four yards per game.
After a holding the Elks to a quick three-and-out on the first series of the game, Sariana got the Rams on the board in a hurry, darting 70 yards down the right sideline on the first play for the go-ahead score.
On its next possession, Starmount lost a fumble deep in its own territory. But the Ram defense held, forcing a turnover on downs after stopping Sam Lane on a fourth-down pass.
Hunter Myers broke free into Elkin territory, setting up a Parker Gunnel 32-yard field goal to extend the lead to 10-0.
From there, both defenses flexed its muscles as neither team was able to move the ball in the second quarter, as Starmount took a 10-0 lead into the locker room.
The Rams broke through on the first play of the third quarter when Martin darted down the ride sideline for a 70-yard score to extend the lead to 17-0.
Martin added two more scores on back-to-back possessions to open the fourth quarter, running it in from 19 yards and one yard out to push Starmount’s advantage out to 31-0.
“I feel like we work towards two-platooning, even though we don’t strictly do that, and I think that paid off for us in the second half,” Johnson said. “I think we were a little fresher [offensively] and I think it made a difference.
“But our defense really carried us tonight. They kept us in it and kept things going,” he continued.
After another Elkin three-and-out, Watson fielded the punt and darted through the Elk return team for an electrifying 64-yard return.
Elkin fumbled the ensuing kick off, leading to a Watson six-yard score for the finishing touches on Starmount’s sixth-straight win in the annual matchup.
The Rams have outscored their rivals 158-6 in the last three showdowns in the three most lopsided games in recent memory.
“I haven’t really thought about [the win streak] to be honest. It’s just a new year, new group and new rivalry game,” Johnson added.
Starmount remains perfect on the year, improving to 6-0 on the year and 4-0 in the Mountain Valley Conference. The win also marked the Rams’ 37th-straight conference win.
Elkin falls to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the MVAC with the loss.
The Elks travel up to Millers Creek to take on West Wilkes Friday, while Starmount heads into its bye week.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.