Pisgah will have a three-way share of the Mountain Six title.
The Bears welcomed conference-leading Brevard to Pisgah Stadium Friday, and although they faltered early on, held on and took advantage of opportunities to come away with a tough 12-7 win.
After each team went three and out, Brevard found success on the ground and was able to put together a quality drive that ended when, on third and 3 from the Pisgah 18, quarterback Baxter Swicegood faked the handoff on a jet sweep and took the ball up the middle all the way to the end zone. Following the extra point, the Blue Devils led, 7-0, with 5:32 left in the first quarter.
On the next drive, the Brevard defense lived in the Bears’ backfield, not giving quarterback Korey Griffith any room to operate. After getting the ball back, the Blue Devils again moved at will all the way to the red zone. Then, on a run to the left, linebacker Jaxon Jarrell knocked the ball loose, and a sleuth of Bears jumped on it at the 10.
While the Bears weren’t able to make good off the turnover, after forcing another Brevard punt, their run game took over. Pisgah hadn’t gotten a first down for about 17 minutes until Griffith threw a laser to Keegan Hudson to the right side to move the chains. The next two plays, rushes by Cain Early and Hunter Cseledy, also resulted in first downs.
The Pisgah offense often showed a wishbone formation, which features three running backs. Although the team struggled from time to time out of that formation, to end that drive, from 13 yards out, Griffith was able to find a hole to the left and take it all the way to the end zone. After a missed extra point, the score was 7-6, Brevard with just a few minutes left in the half.
Brevard was threatening with about a minute left in the half, but Warner Mull secured two huge sacks in a row to halt whatever the Blue Devils were looking to do, sending both teams back to the locker rooms.
After Pisgah turned the ball over on downs on its first drive of the second half, Brevard was looking to score but again couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity. On third and 10 from the 31, Swicegood, who was hobbled a few plays earlier, got the ball all the way down to the 5 before Keegan Hudson forced a fumble that was recovered by the Bears.
Just like with the other turnover, Pisgah was unable to take advantage of the opportunity and had to punt from deep in its own territory. However, the team had more left in the tank.
After starting off at their own 6, the Bears' running attack, fueled by Robinson and Cseledy, picked up a few sizable chunks of yards to get the ball up to the 38. From there, Robinson took a jet sweep around the left, and while the play looked broken, he cut back up the middle, made a couple moves and took it 62 yards for the score. After the failed two-point conversion, Pisgah led 12-7 with eight minutes left in the game.
On the next drive, Brevard’s passing game picked up, as Swicegood connected twice in a row for big gains to get his team to the 12 yard line. But as if two times wasn’t enough, the Blue Devils fumbled a third time. This time, Pisgah recovered the ball at the 10. Although the Bears ran the ball well for awhile, advancing to about midfield while eating a good deal of time off the clock, they eventually had to punt, giving Brevard one more chance with the ball at the 13 with 2:28 left in the game.
However, the Mill Town defense stepped up and stopped the Blue Devils four times in a row, and Lane Mease picked off Swicegood on fourth down to secure the crucial win.
Because Smoky Mountain also won its game, the Mustangs, the Blue Devils and the Bears will split a three-way share of the conference championship.
Check Monday’s Mountaineer for a full recap.