Tuscola picked up a massive road win Friday, topping Asheville 20-14, the Mountaineers' first win at Asheville since 1995.
A mammoth opening drive by Tuscola drained nearly nine minutes off the clock before the Asheville offense even took the field. The Mountaineers successfully converted on three fourth-down tries during the drive, and senior fullback Jonathan Smart punched it in from two yards out to add the exclamation point.
Asheville was unable to capitalize on its first offensive possession, and the Mountaineers followed up their opening ground trudge with an aerial encore on drive number two. Coleman Bryson hit Gavin Tannerhill over the top of the Asheville defense for a 64-yard touchdown to put Tuscola up 14-0 before the end of the first quarter.
The Cougars answered to begin the second quarter. Quarterback Three Hillier connected with Famous Pasley on consecutive completions of 35 and 31 yards, the latter for a touchdown, to cut the Tuscola lead in half.
The teams would then swap touchdowns, Tuscola scoring on a 1-yard dive by Garrett Fox and Tuscola on a 15-yard screen pass from Hillier to Vasili Paulk. A single missed extra-point attempt kept the Mountaineer’s halftime lead at 20-14.
An offensively uneventful third quarter kept the punters of both teams busy and the score stuck at 20-14. The fourth quarter proved to be another exercise in clock management for Tuscola. The Mountaineers received an Asheville punt with six minutes to go in the game and let Fox and the running attack bleed the clock down to 1:14. The Mountaineers turned it over on downs deep in Asheville territory, setting up a final attempt for the Cougars to drive the field for a tie or the win.
After watching Tuscola do it all night, Asheville High converted on a fourth down try of their own, as Hillier hit Pasley for a 20-yard reception with 41 seconds remaining. Hillier followed it up with another deep completion, this one for 37 yards to Cedric Gordon. With no time out remaining and time running out, the Cougars hurried to the line and snapped the ball. Hillier was surrounded by a gang of Tuscola defenders and threw a hurried pass that was intercepted with 15 seconds remaining.
Tuscola took a knee and the celebration was on. According to head coach J.T. Postell, the win marked the first time a Tuscola team had won a game on Asheville’s field since 1995. The win also snapped a two-game losing skid for the Mountaineers.
Check Monday's edition of The Mountaineer for a full recap.