ASHEVILLE — The Mitchell Mountaineers avenged a loss from last season’s schedule with a hard-fought opening week victory over the Erwin Warriors in Buncombe County on Friday, Aug. 23.
MHS rode the shoulders of veteran quarterback Noah Pitman, who scored a rushing touchdown as part of a night that included 21 carries for 204 yards on the ground, while completing 5-of-11 passing for 50 yards. Teammate Tanner Duncan chipped in with 58 yards on 15 carries.
Leading the way for Erwin was Keavon Carson, who gained 82 yards on 12 carries. Quarterback Jared Penland completed 7-of-22 passing for only 33 yards, and threw a pair of interceptions.
The teams played to a scoreless tie through the entire first quarter and into the second period before Erwin drew first blood with a Penland 13-yard touchdown run. The extra point from Fernando Marin staked the Warriors to a 7-0 lead that it maintained for the remainder of the half.
As the second half ensued, the Mountaineers eased on the gas and took control of the game. MHS running back Garrison Phillips capped a drive with a 2-yard TD run with 5:15 to play in the period. Elliot Kadans’ PAT knotted the game at 7-7.
The score remained deadlocked until the early moments of the fourth period, when Kadans booted a 28-yard field goal through the uprights to give the Mountaineers a 10-7 advantage.
On its ensuing offensive series, the Mountaineers again struck paydirt, as Pitman pummeled the Warriors defense and scampered 17 yards for a score. Kadans’ PAT upped the MHS lead to 17-7 with 4:55 remaining in the game.
Erwin could find no answer in the closing minutes for the Mitchell defense, who bowed its neck and kept the Warriors off the scoreboard for the entire second half. With 70 seconds remaining, Mitchell added an insurance score as Carter Hoyle plunged across the goal line from four yards out, with the Kadans PAT closing out the scoring for the MHS victory.
Mitchell returns to action this Friday, Aug. 30, when it welcomes Cabarrus [Cannon/Concord First Assembly Academy] to Memorial Stadium in Ledger. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.