TIME ON THEIR SIDE: Mitchell dominates clock; beats Erwin 21-14
ASHEVILLE – If “Time is on my Side” as The Rolling Stones say, it was especially true this past Friday for the Mitchell Mountaineers.
Mitchell (1-0, 0-0) traveled to Asheville this past Friday to open its season against 3-A Clyde A. Erwin High School and used a strong running game and time-of-possession dominance to open the season with a 21-14 win.
Erwin had possession for 6 seconds only in the first quarter and did not run a play play until the 9:47 mark of the second quarter.
The Mountaineers received the ball at their own 6-yard-line to begin the game and Head Coach Travise Pitman orchestrated a 17-play, 94-yard drive that ate 7:39 off the clock. The drive was capped by a 15-yard touchdown run from sophomore running back Noah Pitman, who led all rushers with 102 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Mitchell sophomore Matthew Gilbert recovered an Erwin fumble on the ensuing kickoff and the Mountaineers took over at the Erwin 47-yard-line with 4:15 remaining in the first quarter, which ended with Mitchell still with possession of the ball and facing fourth-and-22 after a 19-yard loss from an errant snap on third-and-3. A pair of penalties on the Warriors gave Mitchell a first-and-goal from the Erwin 9-yard-line. Senior quarterback Ben Young gained three of his 61 rushing yards on a fourth-and-goal scamper that gave Mitchell a 14-0 lead after a 12-play, 47-yard drive that ate 6:28 off the clock.
Erwin ran its first offensive play with 9:47 remaining in the first half and mustered only 19 yards on five plays before punting back to Mitchell with seven minutes remaining in the first half. The Mountaineers’ drive was ended with 4:22 left before the half when Erwin senior Isaiah Poore intercepted a tipped pass from Young at the Warriors’ 8-yard-line.
Erwin started moving the ball before Mitchell’s defense stiffened and forced the Warriors to punt with 2:33 left in the half. Senior wide receiver Brody Smith made a tremendous catch on the first play of the drive for a 32-yard gain. The eight-play, 63-yard drive ended when Pitman caught a Young pass for a 4-yard touchdown reception.
Erwin took over with 16 seconds remaining in the first half and ran two plays before the first half ended.
The second half was a different story. Mitchell did not score and the Warriors switched quarterbacks when junior Kendric Weaver replaced sophomore starter Riley Towels; the change proved pivotal for Erwin. Weaver put together a 10-play, 67-yard drive resulting in a 3-yard touchdown run for the Warriors’ first score of the game. The PAT failed and Mitchell led 21-6 with 7:10 remaining in the third quarter.
The Mountaineers’ offense was stymied and Erwin added another touchdown and 2-point conversion with 1:07 remaining in the third quarter to shrink Mitchell’s lead to 21-14.
The teams traded possession throughout the fourth quarter and a 22-yard run by Young with less than a minute remaining gave Mitchell a first down and the opportunity to run out the clock and seal the victory.
Mitchell plays its first home game at 7:30 p.m. this coming Friday when the independent Cannon Cougars make the trip to Ledger from Concord. Cannon (1-0) is coming off a 47-7 win over North Raleigh Christian Academy.
See this week’s News-Journal for a preview of the matchup against Cannon.