Cougars top Mountaineers
LEDGER – Mitchell High School’s varsity football team’s winning streak was snapped at five games Friday, Oct. 5, at the hands of rival Mountain Heritage, which won 24-16 in Ledger.
Mitchell (5-2, 0-1) suffered its first loss since a 34-21 setback in Week 1. The Cougars (5-1, 1-0) have now topped the Mountaineers four straight times dating back to 2015.
Mitchell’s last win over Mountain Heritage came in a 26-22 game in 2014.
Junior quarterback Noah Pitman and senior running back Landon Miller did their best to will the Mountaineers to a win. Noah Pitman completed 3-of-7 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns while running 16 times for 61 yards and Miller rushed 11 times for 50 yards and caught a 42-yard pass.
Junior receiver Tyler McKinney caught a pair of passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns.
The visiting Cougars took the buzz out of the home stands early by orchestrating an eight-play, 80-yard opening drive capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by junior Mikey Riddle.
Mountain Heritage scored again late in the second quarter after marching 42 yards in less than a minute to take a 16-0 lead after a 6-yard touchdown scamper by junior quarterback Callin Randolph.
Mitchell answered quickly when Noah Pitman completed a short pass to McKinney, who weaved his way around the field and caused several missed tackles on the way to a 65-yard touchdown as time expired in the first half.
Mountain Heritage led 16-6 at halftime.
Mountain Heritage senior Jake Autrey plunged in for a 1-yard touchdown late in the third quarter to push his team’s lead to 24-6 following the team’s third successful two-point conversion of the game.
Noah Pitman and McKinney connected for a score for the second and final time of the night, this time from 19 yards out, to trim the Heritage lead to 24-13.
Mitchell junior kicker Elliot Kadans booted a 23-yard field goal to cut the lead to 24-16 with less than five minutes left in the game, but the Cougars salted the game away by chewing up the remaining 4:21 on nine plays.
Autrey led the way for the Cougars by posting game-highs in carries (17) and yards (87) while adding a touchdown. Riddle and Randolph notched the team’s other two scores and combined for 20 carries and 77 rushing yards.
Randolph completed 6-of-9 passes for 124 yards and was not sacked.
Senior lineman Hudson Boone paced the Mitchell defense with a team-high seven tackles.
Mountaineers head coach Travise Pitman said he liked the way his team played but a few costly mental errors proved too hard to overcome.
“I thought we played hard,” Travise Pitman said. “We had some responsibility errors that were unfortunate, but those are things we have to learn from. There are always things we can get better at, and there are things I can improve on.”
Travise Pitman added that sometimes teams could learn as much in a loss as they do in a win.
Mitchell will get a chance to show what it learned from the loss as its Western Highlands Conference slate continues Friday at Madison.
Madison (1-6, 0-1) has dropped four straight since its lone win at Rosman and is coming off a 48-46 loss at Avery County.
Mitchell throttled Madison 62-20 in Ledger this past season.
Friday’s game is Mitchell’s second road game of the season and its first since traveling to Cannon on Friday, Aug. 24. The Mountaineers beat Cannon 27-6 in that game to improve to 1-1 after an opening week loss to Erwin.
“It might be good just to get out of here and get a chance to be on the road,” Travise Pitman said. “We can get out heads focused during the bus ride.”
Madison, which is under the direction of first-year head coach Kyle Hutchison, runs the triple option and utilizes a 3-4 base defense.
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12 in Marshall.