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The Answerman cometh — and then runs away in 48-28 Pioneer loss

Watauga sophomore QB Maddox Greene fights his way into the end zone against Burns on Sept. 9.

By David Rogers for HighCountrySports.net

LAWNDALE, N.C. — For three-quarters of the Sept. 9 high school football game between host Burns and visiting Watauga, both teams had answers. But with a 21-point scoring outburst in the fourth quarter that took advantage of Pioneer turnovers, the Bulldogs gave their enthusiastic home crowd a lot to cheer about in carving out a convincing, 48-28 win.

The night started promising enough for Watauga, its defensive unit holding Burns to a three-and-out on the Bulldogs’ opening possession. Then, in trademark grinding fashion, the Pioneers marched to the game’s first score after a 10-play drive that took four and a half minutes off the clock — and kept Burns’ offense off the field. Watauga covered the 78 yards with quarterback Maddox Greene and senior running backs Will Curtis and Trey Thompson trading carries before Greene surprised everyone on 1st-and-10 from the Burns 24-yard-line with a pass to senior wide receiver Jackson Pryor. The TD pass drew the proverbial “first blood” for the High Country visitors. Placekicker Grant Kight’s PAT kick sailed through the uprights cleanly to make the score midway through the first half, 7-0.

Burns High School junior running back Jeremiah Norris breaks into the open to score a second half TD against Watauga on Sept. 9.

Burns didn’t waste any time answering, orchestrating a 9-play drive to produce a touchdown and PAT that took just under three minutes.

And that was the way most of the first three quarters went, the schools trading touchdowns. Watauga held the slightest of advantages when Burns’ placekicker missed a field goal and an extra point after his team’s final TD of the third quarter, leaving the score at 28-27 entering the last stanza.

Trailing, Burns had possession going into the fourth quarter but failed to convert on a 4th-and-5 opportunity at the Watauga 31-yard-line. The Pioneer defense did its job, setting up the offense for a potential go-ahead opportunity that would have made it a two-score game. Prospectively, they would also have taken a substantial amount of time off the game clock.

Even for a game almost two hours’ driving distance from Boone, Watauga’s student section was well represented on Sept. 9 in Lawndale as the football team took on Burns — and well costumed, to boot.

But only two plays into their first possession of the final period, the Pioneers joined the “Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Club” when Burns punched the ball out of running back Will Curtis’ arms, then recovered the fumble at the Watauga 37. Given a short field, it took Bulldog quarterback Ben Mauney just four plays to get Burns into the end zone, finished off with a 16-yard scamper around and through a legion of Pioneers by versatile running back Jeremiah Norris.

On the subsequent kickoff, Watauga’s Trey Thompson gave the Pioneers’ offense relatively good field position with a 20-yard return, but two plays later the Bulldogs forced yet another fumble and turnover, again giving the home side a short field to work with, offensively. It took only five plays for the Mauney-directed offense to get the job done, with running back Ryan Thompson getting the call to rush the ball into the end zone from five yards out. This time, placekicker Ansley Camacho’s PAT kick was good, giving Burns a 42-28 lead and only 6:19 left before game’s end.

The Burns’ defense held on Watauga’s next possession, forcing a three-and-out, then the Bulldogs use eight plays to grind out an insurance touchdown, the drive featuring senior wide receiver Lemont Wilson’s rushing carries of 5, 13, 3, and 3 yards before fellow senior Thompson punched the ball the remaining one-yard across the goal line with just 53 seconds left.

Oops. The referees caught this face mask penalty against Burns as the defensive lineman turns Watauga’s Greene after a sizable gain on Sept. 9, in Lawndale.

“We didn’t execute, plain and simple,” said Watauga head coach Ryan Habich after the game. “In one respect, I am happy about this because we needed to know you can’t take anything for granted. You have to play the whole game. Overall, I was pleased with our players’ effort and we have some terrific young men on this team, but we have to improve on execution if we want to achieve our goals of a conference championship and home field advantage in the playoffs.”

Asked what the team needs to do to fix its execution problems, sophomore quarterback Maddox Greene said, succinctly, “More practice and better practice.”

Watauga (3-1 overall, 0-0 in Northwestern Conference) will have a week to work on things before next Friday, Sept. 16, when they return to the friendly confines of Jack Groce Stadium for “Homecoming” and a final non-conference game. Their opponent will be High Country rival, Ashe County (2-2, 0-0). On Sept. 9, the Huskies suffered a 51-29 loss to a strong Mt. Airy team.


  • Total Offense: WAT 329, BUR 459
  • Time of Possession: WAT 25:45. BUR 22:15
  • Rushing Attempts-Yards: WAT 48-302, BUR 42-207
  • Passing Completions/Attempts/Yards: WAT 2/4/27. BUR 15/20/252
  • Passing TDs-INTs: WAT 1-0, BUR 2-0
  • Fumbles-Lost: WAT 3-3, BUR 0-0
  • Penalties: WAT 5-30, BUR 7-55
  • 3rd Down Conversions: WAT 4/7 (57%), BUR 4/11 (36%)
  • 4th Down Conversions: WAT 1/2 (50%), BUR 2/4 (50%)



  • BUR Ben Mauney 15-20, 252 yards, 2 TDs
  • WAT Maddox Greene 2-4, 27 yards, 1 TD


  • WAT Maddox Greene 23 carries, 183 yards, 2 TDs
  • BUR Jeremiah Norris 23 carries, 127 yards, 2 TDs
  • WAT Will Curtis 16 carries, 60 yards
  • BUR Ryan Thompson 8 carries, 43 yards, 3 TDs
  • BUR Lemont Wilson 7 carries, 34 yards
  • WAT Trey Thompson 5 carries, 21 yards
  • WAT Carlton Horine 1 carry, 11 yards
  • WAT Andrew Tester 1 carry, 9 yards, 1 TD


  • BUR Ryan Thompson 9 catches, 127 yards
  • BUR Kahari Surratt 3 catches, 90 yards, 1 TD
  • BUR LJ Allen 3 catches, 35 yards, 1 TD
  • WAT Jackson Pryor 1 catch, 24 yards, 1 TD