BOONE — The Watauga football team watched helplessly when two-time All-Northwestern Conference running back Bryce Satterfield was helped off the field in the Pioneers’ Sept. 13 game because of two torn knee ligaments.
There was nothing helpless about Watauga’s offense in its 42-14 pasting of visiting Gastonia Ashbrook Sept. 20 at Jack Groce Stadium. The Pioneers’ offense rolled up 492 yards of total offense, 439 of them on the ground, and led the Greenwave (0-4) by no less than two touchdowns the entire game.
Watauga improved to 4-1 in the non-conference stretch of its season and opens NWC play Sept. 27 at home against South Caldwell.
Satterfield, who tore his MCL and ACL against Wilkes Central Sept. 13 while covering a kickoff, is out for the season. His primary replacement at running back, Jake Watson, got off to a good start filling in by gaining 112 yards on 14 carries, which works out to 8.0 yards per carry.
More importantly, Watson scored on touchdown runs of one, 14, three and a 9-yard run in the fourth quarter that started on a fourth-and-two. It ended up with him bulling his way into the end zone with most of the Ashbrook defense trying, and failing, to bring him to the ground.
“We got a really good surge with the offensive line and they kept chopping,” Watauga coach Ryan Habich said. “They kept moving the pile and Jake kept running. It’s one of those plays where it’s hard to stop.”
Watson benefited from the productivity of quarterback Anderson Castle. The senior slashed his way through and around the Ashbrook defense for 258 yards rushing on 24 carries, which is an average of 10.8 yards per carry.
“The goal was for Jaiden (Bond) to run the ball more and for Anderson to run the ball more,” Habich said. “We started to feel it out and see if Jaiden could adapt to playing a new position.”
Castle has gained 802 yards and scored 10 touchdowns in just five games this season. He averages 8.4 yards per carry and 160.4 yards per game.
Habich said the reason why the Pioneers opened the game without a running back was a tribute to Satterfield. Castle was also under instructions to gain at least two yards on the play.
Castle gained nine yards on the first play to fulfill the tribute using a unique formation without a running back, but with two tight ends.
“I said Anderson, we’re going to run the first play without a B-back and you have to get at least two yards — one for you and one for Bryce,” Habich said. “He said, ‘Coach, I’m going to gain seven or eight’ and we got (nine) yards on that first play.”
Watauga methodically took a 21-0 halftime lead. Castle capped the Pioneers’ opening drive, which went 60 yards in nine plays, with a 6-yard touchdown run. Watson scored his first touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run on the first play of the second quarter and Castle found a wide-open Bond for a 53-yard touchdown pass to give the Pioneers their 21-point lead.
“We had other pass plays called, but Anderson ran them,” Habich said. “They were first-level RPOs (run-pass options), but one great thing about our conference (games) is that we’ll be able to open it up when teams stop the run.”
Ashbrook showed some life when Shrine Bowl defensive back Trey Byers returned the second-half kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown, but Watauga struck back with a 14-yard Watson touchdown run.
After the Greenwave scored its final touchdown on a 35-yard run by Trevon Crank, Watauga answered with Watson’s 9-yard TD run.
Watauga 42, Gastonia Ashbrook 14
Ashbrook 0 0 14 0 — 14
Watauga 7 14 7 14 — 42
W—Castle 6 run (Everett kick)
W—Watson 1 run (Everett kick)
W—Bond 53 pass from Castle (Everett kick)
A—Byers 80 kickoff return (Kick good)
W—Watson 14 run (Everett kick)
A—Crank 35 run (Kick good)
W—Watson 9 run (Everett kick)
W—Watson 3 (Everett kick)
First downs 11 24
By rushing 8 23
By passing 3 1
By penalty 0 0
Rushes-yards 31-129 45-439
Avg. per rush 4.2 9.8
Passing yards 71 53
Passes 6-7-0 1-1-0
Avg. per pass 11.8 53.0
Total plays-yards 38-200 46-492
Avg. per play 5.3 10.7
Punts-avg. 3-39.0 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-30 4-35
Fumbles-lost 3-2 2-2
Def. sacks-yds 0-0 2-17
Time of poss. 21:43 26:17
Third down conv. 5-8 2-3
Fourth down conv. 0-1 101
Rushing: Ashbrook—Postell 11-68, Crank 5-46, Meeks 7-(-9); Watauga—Castle 24-258, Watson 14-112, Bond 5-57, Best 1-12, Oliver 1-0.
Passing: Ashbrook—Meeks 3-6-0 71; Castle 1-1-0 53.
Receiving: Ashbrook—Postell 3-26, Batts 1-24, Byers 1-16; Watauga—Bond 1-53.