Young, defense carry Mitchell past Polk County in TV tussle

Published 10:14 am Friday, October 7, 2016

LEDGER – The promise of an early defensive stop and offensive touchdown disappeared all too quickly Thursday night for Polk County.

Ben Young made certain of that.

Mitchell’s junior quarterback scored five touchdowns, accounting for three in a six-play span in the first half, to lead the second-ranked Mountaineers to a 48-18 victory over the Wolverines in a Western Highlands Conference clash played as part of WMYA-TV’s Thursday Night Lights series.

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Unlike last season’s televised clash between these two teams, in which Mitchell needed a late score for a 28-27 victory, Polk County (3-5, 1-2) couldn’t find an answer in the first half for slowing undefeated Mitchell (7-0, 2-0). The Mountaineers, second in this week’s state Associated Press 1A poll, built a 28-6 lead at the break, that three-touchdown flurry a staggering blow that Polk could never overcome.

Young finished the game with 146 yards rushing and the five touchdowns on 10 carries while throwing for 194 yards and a touchdown on 7-of-9 attempts. He did his most impressive work in the first half.

Polk County stopped Mitchell on its opening drive, taking over at the Mountaineer 49 after an incomplete pass on fourth-and-3. Polk converted a fourth-and-2 at the 41, then moved into the red zone when Dillon Overholt teamed with Elijah Sutton on a 31-yard catch-and-run to the Mitchell 2. Overholt scored from the one moments later, and the Wolverines had a 6-0 advantage.

A short kickoff and good return gave Mitchell the ball at the Polk 43, and Young needed just one play to reach the end zone, powering over the right side, keeping his feet and shrugging off a downfield tackler and scoring, giving Mitchell a 7-0 lead with 5:14 left in the half.

The Wolverines picked up one first down on their ensuing series before punting, and again the Mountaineers started a drive in Polk territory, this time at the 33. On the drive’s fourth play, Young eased over left end from the six on the final play of the first quarter, and Luis Velasquez added the point after for a 14-6 advantage.

Polk went three-and-out on its next drive, but a nice punt by Luke Sellers pushed the Mountaineers back to their 19. A holding penalty moved Mitchell back even more, to its 9, but there Young tossed a bubble screen to Brody Smith, who jetted through the Wolverine defense and raced 91 yards to the end zone. Velasquez again hit the extra point, and Mitchell led 21-6 with 9:01 left in the half.

After another Polk three-and-out, the Mountaineers scored on a 66-yard drive, Young throwing a 62-yard pass to Smith to reach the 1. Young powered in on a quarterback sneak, and Mitchell had a 28-6 margin with 4:14 left in the half.

“We started out real well,” said Polk County head coach Jamie Thompson. “We proved on the first drive we could stop them on defense. We were able to get a short field and work down the field and score.

“After that. . . we didn’t execute well on offense (in the first half).”

Mitchell upped the lead to 34-6 on a 58-yard scoring run by Young early in the third period before Jaymes Wingo returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a score, making it 34-12 with 9:15 left in the quarter. Young picked up his final touchdown late in the third before the Wolverines drove 64 yards in 11 plays, including a 21-yard scramble by Overholt on a fourth-and-19, to score on a 7-yard pass from Overholt to Josh Chupp on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Mitchell added a late touchdown for the final margin.

Overholt threw for 103 yards on 8-of-12 attempts, with Chupp catching four passes for 35 yards and a score. Wingo led the Polk ground game with 50 yards on 11 carries.

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