LEDGER — The scores came early and often for the Mitchell Mountaineers as it celebrated Homecoming on Friday, Sept. 27, with a decisive 48-7 blowout victory over the East Henderson Eagles.
Mitchell scored three first-quarter touchdowns en route to 48 unanswered points, and with the win the Mountaineers, ranked third in the 1A state media poll, improves its mark to a perfect 6-0 entering its bye week before beginning Western Highlands Conference action on October 11.
Quarterback Noah Pitman accounted for six total touchdowns (three passing, three rushing) and 179 total yards, while teammate Tanner Duncan ran for 135 yards and Logan Hudgins ran for 94 yards. The Mountaineers defense held the Eagles to just 141 yards on 48 plays, while Mitchell amassed 451 yards of offense, with 373 yards gained on the ground.
The home team struck first on the scoreboard when Pitman shot through the left side of the line on an option keeper for a 19-yard run with 8:57 to play in the opening period. Elliot Kadans’ PAT spotted the Mountaineers the early 7-0 lead.
A little more than three minutes later, Mitchell was back on the scoreboard by virtue of a 23-yard pitch-and-catch on a post pattern from Pitman to wideout Tyler McKinney. The PAT pushed the MHS lead to 14-0 in front of the capacity crowd at Memorial Stadium.
After another empty East possession left the Mountaineers with field position just outside the Eagles’ red zone, Mitchell added to its lead when Pitman found Ty Pitman for a 2-yard touchdown pass with 1:50 left in the first period. The PAT failed, but MHS held a commanding 20-0 lead.
Another short field left Mitchell with a prime opportunity to score again early in the second quarter, and the Mountaineers capitalized, as Noah Pitman rolled left and threw back across his body to connect with receiver Ty Pitman with a second TD pass, this one from 17 yards out. The PAT was successful and the lead was increased to 27-0 in favor of the home team.
Late in the second quarter the Mountaineers added a final score as Pitman picked up a low snap and raced around the left side, finding paydirt on a 30-yard run through the Eagles defense to cap a five-play, 67-yard scoring drive. The PAT gave MHS a 34-0 lead entering halftime.
During Homecoming festivities, Caroline Adkins was named 2019 Homecoming Queen, with Evan Briggs being named 2019 Homecoming King.
In what has become the norm for the first five weeks of the high school football season, the intermission did nothing to cool off the Mountaineers offense. Noah Pitman scored for the third time in the game, this time toting the pigskin down the right sideline on a 22-yard jaunt, with the extra point staking Mitchell to a 41-0 lead.
In the latter stages of the third quarter, the Mountaineers pieced together one of its most impressive scoring drives of the season, marching 99 yards over eight plays. Ty Sparks ended the drive with points as he scored on an 18-yard run. The Kadans extra point pushed Mitchell’s lead to 48-0 and triggered a running game clock for almost the entire fourth quarter as per the NCHSAA 42-point mercy rule.
Seeking to prevent the shutout, the Eagles finally managed to put points on the scoreboard on a number of the MHS reserves on defense, as EHHS quarterback Gavin Gosnell connected with Caleb Green for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 3:43 remaining in the contest to account for the final margin of victory.
Caius Peterson led the defensive charge for Mitchell with 9.5 tackles and a quarterback sack in the win, with seven tackles from Cameron Greene and three tackles from Harrison Horney.
Mitchell opens conference play on October 11 when it travels to Swannanoa to take on the Owen Warhorses.