HICKORY – Something about the air and atmosphere out on Springs Road just seems to fit for Maiden High in varsity football.
Despite being outgained by host St. Stephens and needing to force five turnovers to prevail, the Blue Devils won again on the Indians’ field on Friday night, 21-13.
It was Maiden’s 17th straight win at St. Stephens, dating back to the Indians beating the Blue Devils at home only once – 16-12 in 1980 — in the last 39 years.
On Friday night, Montrell Stinson caught a TD pass and had three interceptions to lead Maiden (4-0), which remained unbeaten with its seventh straight win over the Indians(1-2).
Maiden has won 16 straight regular season games – the finale against Lincolnton in 2016, all 11 last season and all four this season – as it heads into an open date this week.
The Blue Devils had an early 8-7 lead via quarterback Bain Sipe’s TD pass to Dylan Abernathy and a two-point conversion run by Caleb McDaniel.
St. Stephens, using an 11-yard TD by Xavian King, was within 8-7 after one quarter.
Stinson’s 39-yard catch from McDaniel with about six minutes left in the half pushed Maiden ahead for good, 14-7, and it was 21-7 when Lee Turner ran 1 yard for a TD and Casey Ly kicked the PAT.
St. Stephens closed within 21-13 with less than four minutes to play on a 1-yard TD run by Connor Williams. That was set up by a blocked punt by Garrett Bolick.
The Indians had almost 230 yards on offense to Maiden’s 197, but the Blue Devils – again – found a way to hang on and beat St. Stephens.
Maiden converted a key fourth down in the red zone, needing three yards, and got a first down on a catch by Abernathy He got out of bounds, setting up Turner’s scoring run as time expired.
While Maiden has two weeks to get ready for its South Fork 2A opener on Sept. 21 at undefeated Bandys, the Indians will travel on Friday to face winless Fred T. Foard at 7:30 p.m. in a non-league game.
St. Stephens’ league opener is Sept. 21 at home against Freedom.
Maiden’s Will Byrne picked up his 23rd win in 28 games as head coach at his alma mater … Maiden has opened its season against St. Stephens 18 times cine 1980, going 16-1-1 in those games … The Blue Devils are off to a 4-0 start for the second straight season … Maiden has now been 4-0 in 12 different seasons since 1980, capped by 14-0 starts in 1992 and again in 2004… There are six games between Maiden and St. Stephens with a winning margin fewer than Friday’s eight points — Maiden by five in 2008 at St. Stephens, Maiden by seven in 2006 at St. Stephens, St. Stephens by two at Maiden in 1995, Maiden by four in 1992 at St. Stephens, Maiden by six in 1986 at St. Stephens and Maiden by five in 1985 at Maiden …Also Maiden won 8-0 at home in 1981.