Spruce Pine – The number 2 seeded Mitchell Mountaineers ended the Maroon Devils title hopes last Friday. Mitchell broke open a close game by scoring 17 unanswered points in the 2nd quarter to take a commanding 24-0 lead into halftime. Swain scored their lone touchdown in the 3rd quarter before falling 38-6.
The Maroon Devils could not take advantage of a solid break on the first possession of the game. Mitchell had the ball, and only 3 plays into their opening drive, the Mountaineers fumbled. Swain’s Lucas Brown recovered the fumble near midfield. Swain killed a solid drive with a fumble of their own, which although they recovered resulted in a 15 -ard loss on 3rd down, forcing the Devils to punt the ball away.
The teams exchanged punts until late in the 1st quarter when Mitchell, taking advantage of a short field, scored on a 4-play, 41-yard drive. Mitchell used a solid run, coupled with a Maroon Devil penalty to move the ball from the Swain 41 all the way to the Devils 15 yard line. Three plays later Tanner Duncan scored from 3 yards out to give Mitchell the lead.
Swain’s next possession would prove to be the biggest drive of the game. Trailing 7-0, the Devils started on their own 20 and methodically, and in true Maroon Devil fashion, drove the ball down field, eventually reaching the Mitchell 10 yard line. Once the Devils got inside the Mountaineer 25 yard line, all sorts of strange things happened. The most devastating for the Devils was a pair of penalties which took them from a 2nd and 7 to a 2nd and 16 and from a 3rd and 5 to a 3rd and 10. Included in the strangeness of the drive, both teams used 2 time outs each during the drive. In the end the Devils would turn the ball over on downs at the Mitchell 15 yard line.
Mitchell would score, using only 4 plays to cover 85 yards. The Mitchell touchdown turned what could have been a 7-7 game into a 14-0 game. For good measure the Mountaineers would go on to score on their next 2 possessions, while penalties put the Maroon Devils in bad down and distance situations in both of their drives before the half.
Penalties played a factor throughout the game. It would be remiss to say that the officials or penalties cost the Devils the game. It would also be a slight against a very good Mitchell football team. Officials certainly did not cost the Devils the game. However it bears pointing out that Swain was flagged a staggering 18 times for 128 total yards. These were far and away season highs in penalties and yards penalized, Swain next highest number of penalties in a game this year was 8 against Andrews.
While the Devils earned many of those, some with unsportsmanlike actions, a season high in penalties in the 3rd round of the playoffs, with so much on the line, seems like a lot to me. Especially when you add in the 7 that Mitchell had, giving you 25 penalties in a 3rd round playoff game.
Swain’s lone touchdown came on the opening possession of the 3rd quarter. The Maroon Devils got a solid kick return from sophomore Donavan Groenewold, as he brought the kick back from the 1-yard line all the way the the Devils 39. From here Swain marched 61 yards on 16 plays to find the endzone. Damian Lossiah carried it in from the 2, the 2-point conversion failed. Swain had only 1 penalty in the drive, a holding call, which turned a potential 2nd and 6 yards to go into a 2nd and 13 to go. The Devils because of the penalty ended up having to convert on 4th and 3.
Damian Lossiah finished with a team high 86 yards on 24 carries. Lossiah also found Connor Hyatt on a deep route that covered 30 yards for the Devils lone pass completion on the night.
With the loss the Devils finish the season with an 11-3 overall mark.