Mitchell routs McDowell
LEDGER – Mitchell High School’s varsity football team extended its winning streak to three games Friday, Sept. 7, by throttling visiting McDowell 42-14.
The Mountaineers (3-1) used 100-yard rushing performances from junior quarterback Noah Pitman and senior running back Landon Miller to wear down McDowell (2-2).
Noah Pitman and Miller combined for four touchdowns and 217 yards on the ground to help the Class 1-A No. 6-ranked Mountaineers outgain the Titans 329-128.
Mitchell gained momentum right away by capping a seven-play, 73-yard opening drive with a 29-yard Noah Pitman rushing touchdown. A strong opening quarter continued when Miller powered his way in for a score from 11 yards out, pushing his team’s lead to 15-0 after a successful 2-point conversion.
Noah Pitman sneaked his way into the end zone from a yard out early in the second quarter to extend Mitchell’s lead to 22-0.
McDowell’s Adam Randolph connected with Andruw Randolph in the final two minutes of the second quarter to cut into Mitchell’s lead, which was 22-7 at the half.
The Mountaineers came out in the second half firing on all cylinders. Noah Pitman scored from eight yards out to register his third touchdown of the game, and senior Ethan LaPlante joined the scoring party midway through the fourth quarter, plowing into the end zone for a nine-yard rushing touchdown to push the lead to 35-7.
Shortly after LaPlante’s touchdown run, Randolph answered with a 61-yard touchdown run of his own to bring the Titans back to within three scores, but Mitchell senior Jordan Cox ensured there would be no late-game drama as he galloped in for a 49-yard touchdown that put Mitchell up 42-14.
Mitchell converted all four of its redzone chances into touchdowns and finished 5-for-6 on third down conversions.
Mountaineers head coach Travise Pitman said the team’s preparation showed.
“We got better Monday through Thursday, and it showed on Friday,” he said. “The kids are growing up each week. It’s called a season because we hope to grow as it goes on.”
To complement Noah Pitman and Miller’s big days on the ground, Cox racked up 72 yards on five carries, and sophomore Tanner Duncan chipped in 31 yards on eight attempts.
Noah Pitman completed 2-of-4 passes for 22 yards with junior Tyler McKinney and Cox registering one 11-yard reception each.
Miller and senior lineman Hudson Boone tied for the team lead with five tackles and combined for three tackles for a loss.
Travise Pitman said Boone and the rest of the offensive line helped pave the way for the strong offensive performance.
“I thought our offensive line picked up the intensity,” Travise Pitman said. “They were much more physical, and I thought our backs ran hard.”
Randolph completed 7-of-11 passes, but the Mitchell defense limited the damage the 6-1 senior could do, holding him to 88 yards and one touchdown while junior linebacker Cameron Greene intercepted Randolph once.
“I thought our defensive backs did well,” Travise Pitman said. “We took away some of the stuff they tried to do just by aligning ourselves the right way. From there, it just comes down to playing.”
Mitchell now turns its attention to 2-A powerhouse Franklin, which invades Ledger Friday hoping to notch a third straight win.
The Panthers (3-1) earned a 21-14 road win over Swain County this past week. Franklin’s lone loss came in Week 2 when the team dropped a 35-15 game at Murphy.
Franklin finished 13-1 last season and has won double-digit games in four of the past five seasons.
The Panthers, who haven’t finished under .500 since 2008, play an explosive, physical brand of football that is led by senior Tyler Harrison.
Harrison, a shifty 5-9, 160-pound offensive utility player who is listed as a receiver, leads the team with 67 rushes for 300 yards and five touchdowns.
Sophomore Seth Price is the change of pace for the Panthers rushing attack. The 5-10, 180-pound running back has carried 38 times for 228 yards and four scores this season.
Franklin is just as capable through the air. Senior quarterback Blake Gibson is 42-for-80 for 513 yards and six touchdowns this season.
“They have a tradition of always being really good at football,” Travise Pitman said. “They line up and run right at you. They get after it. It’ll be a good test for us to see where we are at.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday in Ledger but Travise Pitman said the incoming Hurricane Florence could shift the schedule around.
Florence is expected to make landfall on the North Carolina coast later this week and bring heavy rain and wind to the area.
Travise Pitman said the game could potentially be moved up to Thursday with junior varsity playing its game Wednesday.
The Mitchell News-Journal will post any schedule updates as soon as possible on our Facebook page.