MITCHELL 49, McDOWELL 19: Second half explosion
MARION – Mitchell High School’s football team is firing on all cylinders.
The Mountaineers traveled down the mountain and improved to 4-0 this past Friday with a 49-19 road win over McDowell.
After a seven-point win over 3-A Clyde A. Erwin in Week 1, Mitchell has won its past three games by double digits and has outscored those opponents by a combined 136-42.
The Titans (1-3) missed a 38-yard field goal on their first drive, but took an early lead after a Mitchell snap sailed over senior quarterback Ben Young’s head and Titans junior Cedric Biddle scooped up the loose ball and rumbled into the end zone for a 47-yard touchdown. McDowell’s extra-point attempt sailed left to give the Titans a 6-0 lead.
The Titans threatened to add to the lead in the second quarter when they drove inside the Mitchell 20-yard line, but the drive came to an abrupt halt after a host of Mountaineers mobbed McDowell senior quarterback Ben Ballew in the backfield and ripped the ball out of his hands, causing a fumble fell on by multiple Mitchell defenders.
Mitchell ran five times on the ensuing drive, including a 55-yard dash by senior running back Ben Robinson. The drive was capped with a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Young for a touchdown. The Luis Valezquez extra-point was good and Mitchell took a 7-6 lead.
Mitchell scored later in the quarter after a snap was too high for McDowell senior punter Cole England and the Mountaineers recovered the loose ball deep in Titans territory. Mitchell scored on the first offensive play after the turnover as Robinson sprinted into the end zone from 27 yards out to push the lead to 14-6.
McDowell cut Mitchell’s lead to one again just minutes later when Ballew hit senior tight end Seth Phillips for a 32-yard touchdown.
The Mountaineers led 14-13 at halftime.
Mitchell dominated the second half by outscoring McDowell 35-6.
Mountaineers head coach Travise Pitman said after a slow start, the team was ready to go in the second half.
“We were a little sluggish at first,” Pitman said. “McDowell played tough and gave us some stuff we hadn’t seen, but the kids settled in.”
Sophomore Noah Pitman ran for three touchdowns – from 22, 5 and 78 yards out – in the second half.
McDowell’s final touchdown came on a 59-yard connection between Ballew and junior Andruw Randolph in the third quarter.
The Mountaineers outscored the Titans 21-0 in the fourth quarter to cruise to the win.
Pitman led the way on the ground for Mitchell, racking up 205 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 10 carries. He led the team with seven tackles.
Robinson ran six times for 102 yards and a touchdown and Young – who completed 8-of-13 passes for 109 yards – ran 12 times for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Robinson picked off a McDowell pass in the fourth quarter and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown. He also recovered a fumble and had five tackles.
Junior Landon Miller ran four times for 38 yards and scored the game’s final touchdown on the ground midway through the final quarter.
The Mountaineers amassed 537 offensive yards on 48 plays.
Mitchell returns home to face the Carolina Wildcats in this Friday’s homecoming game.
The independent Wildcats are coming off their first win of the season – a 22-19 victory over Hayesville this past Friday.
Prior to the win, the Wildcats lost their first three games by double digits. Under head coach Mark Knight, the Wildcats have finished .500 or better in four of the past five seasons.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday in Ledger.