After 15 long, anxious, and bittersweet months, the 2021 high school football season has finally kicked-off. The format for this season is seven games, all of which are against conference opponents. On Thursday night, two local teams started their season with a rivalry game. Starmount and Elkin came together to play in the 2021 version of the Battle of the Bridge. Usually the stands would be packed with fans from both teams, but due to COVID restrictions only 100 fans were allowed. Although fans were limited, action was still hot on the field. The Elks captured an early touchdown and kept their tempo up as they were able to overtake the young Rams, 29-6.
The home team started off with the ball, as Starmount won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. Jaxon Godbey started at quarterback or the Buckin’ Elks and on the first play of the quarter, he handed the ball off to Boone Beaver. The 5’11” senior powered his way through Starmount’s defensive line and earned three yards for the Elks. On second and seven, Godbey handed the ball off to Brett Beaver who earned two yards for his team.
Third down was set up on the 32-yard line, with five yards to go before a first down. Elkin set up in slot formation with Godbey lining up behind his center. The quarterback called the count, backed up out of the pocket, and looked down field for an open player. Waiting on the left side of the field was Brett Beaver, who caught a perfect pass from Godbey. Beaver broke through two tackles to come up with a 25-yard reception.
The Buckin’ Elks were powering their way down the field as they had a new set of downs on the 43-yard line. From the 43, the Elks ran two plays to come up with another first down at the 27. Although Elkin seemed to be in good field position, the next three plays fell flat for the Elks. On fourth-and-11 from the 28-yard line, the Elks went for the first down but the pass was incomplete. Elkin turned the ball over on downs, and the Rams took over at their own 28-yard line.
Starmount’s first drive lasted a little over 90 seconds, as the young Rams turned the ball over on third down. Set up from the 20-yard line, after a loss of eight yards, the Rams went to the air to try and make up yardage. Alex Armstrong was pressured off of the line by Elkin, which skewed his vision down the field. Armstrong put the ball into the air to avoid another loss, but instead of the ball landing on the ground or in the hands of a Starmount player, Elkin came up with an interception. Defensive back, Landon Jackson, dove towards the ball and grabbed it before it hit the ground. Jackson earned Elkin’s first interception of the night and the Elkin offense was back on the field.
Elkin took over at the 25-yard line, and it took them on four plays before they found their way into the end zone. From the ten-yard line, Godbey passed the ball to Ty Parsons in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown. The field goal by Thomas McComb was put through the uprights, and the Elks held a 7-0 lead over Starmount with 4:24 left in the first quarter.
After the opening touchdown by Elkin, the Elks took the kick-off with Sterlin Holbrook waiting to receive the ball for the Rams. Holbrook caught the ball at the 20-yard line and wasted no time making his way down the field. Holbrook slipped past a herd of Elks before he was brought down at the Elkin 26-yard line. Holbrook put together a 60-yard run to give Starmount great field position for their next offensive drive.
The Rams were able to capitalize on the return by Holbrook, as the Rams put together eight plays before making it across the goal line. Starmount converted a fourth down play along the way, with Armstrong passing the ball off to Rodney Watson for a 14-yard gain. On first-and-goal from the two yard line, Armstrong put the ball into Watson’s hands once again. The 216 pound senior powered his way into the end zone, and the Rams had put up their first touchdown. The extra point by Starmount was short, and as the first quarter came to an end the Elks held a 7-6 lead over Starmount.
As the first quarter turned into the second, the Buckin’ Elks held the ball for eight of the next twelve minutes. Elkin had two drives in the second quarter, with the first drive turning into a touchdown. Elkin started on the 20-yard line and ended with a five-yard touchdown by Beaver. Elkin went for the two-point conversion but came up short on the try. With 8:34 left in the half, Elkin led Starmount 13-6.
As the quarter rolled on, Starmount had one drive which ended up with the Rams having to punt the ball away. Elkin’s second drive also ended with a punt. When halftime came around, Elkin led the Rams 13-6.
Just as the halftime whistle was blown, a flag was thrown by the head referee. The flag was a personal foul on the Rams, which would be accessed on the second half kick-off.
The Rams started the second half receiving the kick, and with the 15-yard penalty in play, Starmount started at the 20-yard line due to a touch-back. The young Rams, who have ten underclassmen on the roster, struggled to gain yards on their drive. Starmount only had one positive play, with the rest of the plays coming up in a loss of yards. On fourth-and-11 from the 15, Starmount elected to punt the ball away.
Off of the punt, Beaver returned the ball to the 37-yard line. Although Elkin had a short field distance to play, the Starmount Rams’ defense came up with a big stop. Denver Stokes and Eli Wingler had plays off of the defensive line which forced Elkin to punt the ball on fourth down.
After both teams started the quarter with punts, Starmount started its second drive on their own six-yard line. The inexperience for Starmount proved to be too much, as the Rams once again were plagued with penalties. As Starmount went to punt the ball away on fourth down, Jadon Welborn fumbled the ball in the end zone and his knee hit the ground. A safety was called in favor of Elkin, which put the home team ahead of Starmount 15-6 with 4:28 left in the third quarter.
As the third quarter turned into the fourth, Elkin put up another touchdown. On third and goal, Godbey passed the ball off to a waiting Landon Bohner. The ball was thrown perfectly, and Bohner added six points to Elkin’s side of the board. The point after attempt was good, and the Elks lead Starmount 22-6 with 11 minutes left in the game.
The fourth quarter rolled on for both teams, with Starmount unable to advance down the field. The Rams’ offense had the ball on the 25-yard line when they went for a run. The ball was stripped out of Starmount’s hands by Elkin’s Joshua Ferguson. The 6’4 senior took the ball 25-yard down the field for a touchdown. Ferguson celebrated the touchdown with an impressive slide, and the Elks were sitting in control with a 29-6 lead.
Elkin kept up its presence across the field on both offense and defense, while Starmount tried to close the distance on the board. As the fourth quarter drew to a close, Elkin captured the Battle of the Bridge trophy with a 29-6 win over Starmount.
The win gives Elkin a 1-0 start to the modified Mountain Valley Athletic Conference season. Elkin will travel to Ashe County next week to take on the Huskies. Starmount starts the season 0-1 and will host Alleghany on Friday night.
Reach Kristian on Twitter @yadkinelksports