BURNSVILLE – Trey Robinson and Mountain Heritage had two weeks to prepare and it showed.
That must have been some bye week.
The Cougars jumped out to a 33-0 lead Friday in front of one of the biggest crowds in Briggs Stadium history and held on for a 41-27 win over visiting Mitchell.
Robinson completed 11 of his 19 attempts for 186 yards and the sophomore quarterback ran for a game-high 134 more yards and a touchdown. The Cougars limited the last undefeated football team in Western North Carolina to 38 total rushing yards.
“It was a great mountain football game,” Mountain Heritage coach Joey Robinson said.
“I wanted this win so badly for our seniors and for really all our kids. I care so much about them, I told them (recently) that I’m not accountable to anyone but them. And for them to come out and play like this in front of this kind of crowd is just incredible.”
Indeed, both sides of the Toe River rivalry showed up en masse Friday. There wasn’t much room to stand, much less sit.
The Cougars (7-2, 3-1) jumped all over the Mountaineers (8-1, 3-1) with a 20-0 lead in the game’s first 10 minutes and the score had ballooned to 33-14 by halftime.
Britt Burleson got things started with a 3-yard run at the 7:41 mark of the first quarter. Trey Robinson then threw touchdown passes to Cole Burleson (3 and 24 yards) and Alston Randolph (72 yards) before calling his own number on 2-yard quarterback keeper with just 5:25 before halftime.
Robinson and Cole Burleson later hooked up for a third time (8 yards) at the 11:08 mark of the third quarter. Burleson finished up with six receptions for 72 yards, while Randolph had two for 89.
There are now three teams in the Western Highlands Conference with one loss apiece – the Cougars, Mountaineers and Hendersonville (5-5, 4-1) which beat Mountain Heritage, 48-44, on Sept. 28. Friday was the first game for the Cougars since throttling Owen, 50-3, on Oct. 9.
“We wanted this one pretty bad,” Trey Robinson said.
“We came out ready to play. There were some ups and downs after that, but this win means a ton. And it was great to see such a big crowd. We loved it.”
Mitchell’s 8-0 start was the best in school history and the Mountaineers showed some fight after falling behind by five touchdowns on Friday.
Ben Young connected for a pair of touchdown passes to Tre Carson (31 and 80 yards) in the final 1:39 of the second quarter. Jake Robinson capped the team’s first possession of the second half with a 3-yard touchdown run.
Young finished with a game-high 233 yards and threw a third touchdown to Alex McKinney with 9:05 to go in the game. Carson (165 yards) and Brody Smith (25 yards) each caught six balls.
However, Mountain Heritage’s defense forced three turnovers – A.J. Hensley recovered a fumble, while Weston Deyton and Michael Bingham killed Mitchell drives with interceptions.
“You have to give credit to Mountain Heritage, they hit us in the face tonight and we didn’t respond the way we needed to,” Mountaineers coach Travise Pitman said.
“You can’t get down like that and then decide to play. But these kids still have a lot to be proud of. I’m not going to fuss with 8-1. If you had told me before the season we’d be 8-1, I’d take it.”
The Cougars travel to Avery County next week, while Mitchell is at home against Madison.
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