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FRANKLIN — As the high school football season marches on, the Mitchell Mountaineers, ranked third in the latest state 1A media poll, continues to illustrate why it will be a force to be reckoned with for the remainder of the football season.

Mitchell took the long bus ride deep into the Smoky Mountains to Franklin to take on the winless Panthers in a non-conference showdown. The Mountaineers dominated all phases of the matchup, holding the Panthers to only 103 total yards while amassing 473 yards of offense of its own in blanking Franklin 49-0.

Quarterback Noah Pitman continued to bolster his case as one of the top all-purpose offensive players in the state, running for 127 yards on only six carries with three touchdowns. Pitman was proficient in the pocket as well, completing 11-of-12 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns.

Teammate Tanner Duncan had one of his strongest performances of the season, amassing 93 yards on seven carries with two touchdowns, while wide receiver Tyler McKinney caught five passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns.

The Mountaineers quickly struck first with a four-play, 61-yard drive with the opening possession of the game. Pitman raced nine yards to paydirt, with Elliot Kadans’ PAT giving the visitors the early 7-0 lead.

Late in the first quarter the Mountaineers showed its quick-strike ability, as Pitman broke through the Franklin defense and darted into the end zone for a 73-yard touchdown run. The PAT doubled Mitchell’s lead to 14-0 with 1:53 to play in the opening stanza.

Seven seconds into the second quarter, head coach Travise Pitman’s club was back on the scoreboard again, as Pitman fired a 33-yard touchdown pass to McKinney to cap a three-play, 58-yard drive that elapsed only 33 seconds off the clock, increasing the MHS lead to 21-0.

McKinney snagged a second touchdown pass from Pitman midway through the second quarter, this time a 14-yard connection to cap an 8-play, 61-yard march, to propel the Mountaineers lead to 28-0.

Franklin had no answer for the Mitchell offense, while the MHS defense was a wall that prevented the Panthers from gaining any traction, holding FHS to only seven first downs for the contest.

The Mountaineers added another pair of touchdowns to close out the first half. Duncan dashed through an opening made by the MHS line and ran 40 yards for a score, and on the final possession of the half, Pitman scored on a 7-yard run to build a 42-0 halftime lead.

During an abbreviated second half due to the NCHSAA 42-point mercy rule, Duncan closed the scoring with a 6-yard touchdown tote midway through the third quarter, with a Cole Woodard PAT closing out the scoring and the 49-point whitewash.

Cameron Greene and Matthew Gilbert led the MHS defense with four tackles each, with Gilbert adding a quarterback sack.

Mitchell returns home to Memorial Stadium this Friday, Sept. 27, to take on East Henderson in non-conference action. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. in Ledger.

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