BOONVILLE — In a rivalry that dates back to 1967, there is always a bit of drama when the Elkin Buckin’ Elks and the Starmount Rams meet on the football field. On Friday night, the atmosphere was electric, and the stadium was packed as the Buckin’ Elks traveled to Boonville to take on the Rams. Both teams put it all on the line until Starmount was able to take a 38-22 win over Elkin.
“The win feels good. It’s the start of the second season, as we call it, and you always want to start off with a win,” said Starmount Head Coach Scott Johnson. “Whomever it is is good, but it’s always good over a rival.”
For the Rams, this game was important as the last home win for Starmount came in September 2015. Elkin has not won in Boonville since 2005 which was an additional factor for the Buckin’ Elks. It was also the start of the 2017 conference season for both teams, which added an extra incentive.
In the first quarter, both teams tried to shake off their nerves. After two stalled drives for Elkin and Starmount, the Buckin’ Elks were able to start the best drive of the first quarter. Elkin started on the 45-yard line after a five-yard punt by the Rams. Quarterback Beau Burgess handed the ball off to Hayden Brooks who ran for 12 yards to earn a first down.
Burgess followed up Brooks’ drive with a 14-yard run of his own to earn another first down for Elkin. A flag was thrown on Starmount which tacked on additional yardage and put the Elks on the 14-yard line. The next few plays went Elkin’s way, until it came to fourth and one. Elkin went for it, and the Rams put up a strong front to force a turnover on downs. Starmount started the drive at its own 24-yard line and tried to make its way down the field but once again came up short. The first quarter ended with the Rams and the Elks tied 0-0.
It took three minutes into the second quarter for the Elks to draw first blood. The play started at the 36-yard line and lasted over five minutes. Burgess handed the ball off to Brooks who ran for six yards to bring up three and four. Once again, Burgess relied on Brooks’ powerful strength and offensive knowledge for the next few plays as the Buckin’ Elks drove down the field. On third and nine, Burgess put a pass in the air which Jaylen Mayes brought down at the 8-yard line. From there, the Buckin’ Elks were able to make the most of a new set of downs as Burgess handed the ball off to Brooks who ran in for an 8-yard touchdown run. The point after attempt was good, and the Buckin’ Elks had a 7-0 lead over Starmount.
The lead for the Elks didn’t last long as the Rams answered back within 19 seconds. Drake Funderburk returned the punt to the 43-yard line, and on the next play Brendon Eads took the ball in for a touchdown. The point after attempt was good and the game was tied 7-7.
The Buckin’ Elks turned their next set of downs into a huge drive which ended in a touchdown. It took six plays for the Buckin’ Elks to find the end zone. On a third-and-seven play, Burgess found the hands of Colt Henderson who laid out horizontal to make a great diving catch that resembled an outfielder playing baseball. Henderson’s catch gave Elkin great field position on the 13-yard line, and pumped up the crowd in the stands. Two plays later, Burgess found the hands of Mayes in the end zone for the final touchdown of the second quarter. The Buckin’ Elks took a 14-7 lead going into halftime.
After halftime things seemed to go Starmount’s way as soon as the Rams left the locker room. Whether it was the halftime speech, or the nerves had worn off, the Rams were ready for action.
“As coaches we’ve been around a long time and we’ve won a lot,” said Johnson. “Sometimes we forget that they are kids and they haven’t won as much as we have. So there is doubt sometimes. At halftime we told them to just go play, it doesn’t matter the outcome, just play hard and things will be fine. Don’t play timid, play hard.”
At the start of the third quarter, Starmount wasted no time in leveling the score. It took less than three minutes for the Rams to make their way down the field. Peyton Mullins made two great runs for the Rams, before Eads ran for a 40-yard touchdown to make the score 14-14.
“The second half Peyton (Mullins) gave us a real big spark,” said Johnson. “It was a third down play where we ran a play into the sideline and he ran through two or three tacklers which got us enthused. That was a big turning point for us.”
As the third quarter kept winding down, the tide seemed to be shifting Starmount’s way. The Rams made a stand on Elkin’s next drive to force a three-and-out situation. The Buckin’ Elks punted to the 49-yard line, and Starmount wasted no time in making the most of its next drive. Trey Dezern came in at quarterback and handed the ball off to Mullins for the first down. Dezern then found Eads who scored another touchdown for the Rams, this time a 56-yard run. Eads’ quickness and ability to break through tackles gave the Rams a 21-14 lead with less than five minutes left in the third quarter.
Just as the third quarter was coming to a close, Starmount was able to add another seven points to the board. On an Elkin punt, the Rams got a block off and recovered the ball in the end zone. Austin Wilfong was able to recover the ball to give Starmount a 28-14 lead and put up another unanswered touchdown.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Elkin found its momentum to find a touchdown. Burgess found a hole to the right side and ran the ball for a 26-yard touchdown. The Buckin’ Elks went for two and the conversion was good as Elkin had scored its first touchdown in the second half.
With the score sitting at 28-22, the Rams found the ability to score an additional touchdown. Peyton Mullins ran for a 52-yard touchdown run to put the game out of Elkin’s reach. The Starmount Rams were able to take a 38-22 win to earn their first conference win of the season.
With the win, Starmount moves to 1-0 in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference, and 2-3 overall. The Rams travel to Alleghany (4-1, 0-1) on Friday night.
Elkin moves to 0-1 in the MVAC, and 2-3 overall. The Buckin’ Elks host Ashe County (1-4, 1-0) on Friday night.
“I was real pleased with our kids, especially in the second half,” said Johnson. “They battled some adversity and they had to overcome some things and they grew up some. I’m hoping this will get us another step closer to being the kind of team I know we can be.”