Ashe County’s season opener got off to a slow start with North Surry, but both offenses found their high gear after the first quarter.
The Huskies held on to win, 50-42.
After a pair of offensive possessions ended with turnovers in the first quarter, Ashe finally got on the board with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Connor Bowers to Jacob Blevins. Kendall Richardson’s extra point was good to take a 7-0 lead with 4:56 left in the first.
North Surry responded on the ground. Dakota Goss ripped off a 65-yard run to put North Surry inside the Husky red zone. Goss then capped off the drive with a seven-yard TD run with 2:50 left in the first to tie the game.
The Husky defense got in on the scoring act with just 36 seconds left in the quarter. Sophomore Tristen Jones sacked North Surry quarterback Hunter Snow in the end zone for a safety.
Ashe added on to its lead on the very next possession when Bowers tossed his second TD pass, this one to Maison McNeill from 11 yards out to take a 16-7 lead.
Goss had the answer again for the Greyhounds. He scored his second TD of the night, a short three-yard run to bring North Surry to within two points at 16-14.
A hard rain began to fall, but it would not slow either offense down.
With 5:54 left in the second quarter, Bowers connected with Blevins once again, this one a 63-yard TD pass. Blevins used his speed to easily leave the Greyhound defenders behind. Ashe was now up 23-14.
Ashe had one more scoring chance left in the second and took full advantage of it. Bowers tossed his fourth touchdown of the first half, this one a 75-yarder to McNeill. Richardson’s extra point gave Ashe a 30-14 halftime lead.
North Surry opened the third quarter with a TD to get within 10 at 30-20.
The Husky passing attack continued to tear up the Greyhound defense. Bowers found McNeill for the third time on a 29-yard strike. The extra point made the score 37-20.
Ashe found some later success on the ground as well from sophomore Skye Sullivan. A 53-yard TD scamper late in the third quarter gave Ashe a 44-20 lead.
North Surry would not go away as Snow tossed a TD pass to close the third that made the score 44-28 after a successful two-point conversion.
The Greyhounds opened the fourth with another score and a two-point conversion. Ashe held a 44-36 lead with most of the fourth quarter left to play.
Bowers completed his sixth TD pass of the night, this one to another youngster, Colin Ellis. The sophomore caught a short screen pass and let his speed and blocking from his teammates do the rest as he scooted 71 yards for the score.
North Surry added one more touchdown before the final whistle.
The Huskies reeled off 458 yards of total offense.
Individually, Bowers completed 14 of 25 passes for 376 yards and six touchdowns.
Sullivan was the main ball carrier with nine rushes for 81 yards and a score.
The offensive line did a great job protecting Bowers as he was not sacked at all, according to post game statistics.
McNeill led the way in receiving with five catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns. Blevins also had five grabs for 140 yards and two scores. Ellis finished with just one catch but it was a long touchdown grab of 71 yards. Carter Calhoun had two catches for 11 yards and Bradley Lucas had one grab for nine yards.
Defensively, Jones was outstanding with 15 tackles and his quarterback sack that resulted in a safety. Shawn Baker added nine tackles, Evan Owen had five, Luis Ramos had five, Brandon Blevins had four as did Kenny Reed, Alex Richardson and Hunter Barnes.
Ashe was able to force four turnovers, including a pair of interceptions from Reed. A. Richardson added a pick, as did Joseph Lowder.
The Huskies will head to Boone to battle the rival Pioneers on Friday. Ashe will be seeking its first win against Watauga since 2001.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-846-7164 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87