COLUMBUS — Entering its Nov. 1 contest at Polk County, it was widely believed that the Polk Wolverines would prove to be the toughest test all season for Mitchell outside of its annual border war with Mountain Heritage.
Instead, the Mountaineers passed the supposed test with flying colors, holding the explosive Wolverines offense to just 99 total yards in handing Polk its first shutout loss in 65 contests, dominating all phases in a 33-0 road victory.
Senior quarterback Noah Pitman was the top all-around weapon again for the Mountaineers, as he amassed 201 rushing yards on 21 carries and a pair of touchdowns, while completing 3-of-7 passes with a touchdown. The senior accounted for 72 percent of the team's total offense in the win.
Lukas Tipton led Polk with just 31 rushing yards on eight carries, while quarterback Bryce Jergenson completed 2-of-7 passes for four yards with an interception.
Mitchell drove the field on its first possession of the contest, scoring the game's opening touchdown on a four-yard Pitman run to cap an 11-play, 82-yard drive. The score was set up by a 45-yard Pitman scramble and dash through the Polk defense, helping the Mountaineers take a 7-0 lead with 5:10 to play in the opening period.
Polk's ensuing series had initial success, moving into Mitchell territory before the drive stalled and the Wolverines were forced to punt at the close of the first quarter.
The teams traded punts in the opening portion of the second period before Mitchell's offense found its rhythm again, as Pitman again found open space and slashed the Polk defense on a 49-yard run to the Polk red zone. Despite a pair of penalties, the Mountaineers managed to capitalize with another touchdown, this time a 15-yard scoring pass from Noah Pitman to Ty Pitman, spotting a visitors a 14-0 lead after a successful PAT from Elliot Kadans with 3:10 to play in the half, a score that remained unchanged for the remainder of the period.
Polk pieced together another drive with its wingbone offense that again crossed midfield to open the second half, but the Mitchell defense bowed its neck to force another Wolverines punt.
On its ensuing possession, Mitchell mounted a four-play, 82-yard touchdown drive. A 40-yard Pitman run was accompanied by a Polk personal foul penalty, setting up the Mountaineers near the Polk red zone. Two plays later, Pitman ran left, then cut back to the center of the field to scamper to the end zone on a 22-yard touchdown run. The extra point was unsuccessful, but the Mountaineers held a commanding 20-0 lead with 4:02 remaining in the third period.
Polk's run-first offense found the going tough against the Mitchell defense, as it was unable to break free for any lengthy plays against the disciplined Mountaineers front. Late in the third quarter, Polk looked to capitalize on a rare Mitchell turnover, but was forced by the game Mitchell defense into a three-and-out.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Mountaineers took advantage of a short Polk punt and good field position to again find the end zone, this time with a five-play, 38-yard drive culminating in a 7-yard Carter Hoyle touchdown run for a 26-0 lead with 4:16 left in the contest.
Less than two minutes later, Mitchell defender Caius Peterson capped the scoring for the night with a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown, putting the finishing touches on a dominant team performance.
Mitchell will look to close its regular season on a high note in preparation for the upcoming state playoffs when it hosts Avery at Memorial Stadium this Friday, Nov. 8, for Senior Night in Ledger. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.