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Polk County senior Luke Sellers drags down Mitchell quarterback Noah Pitman during Friday's game

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Mountaineers pull away to top Wolverines

Mitchell cranked up its passing game, producing a bevy of big plays to subdue Polk County in a 62-13 Western Highlands Conference victory.

LEDGER – A Friday night that began with promise for Polk County ended in an evening the Wolverines would rather forget.

Mitchell cranked up its passing game, producing a bevy of big plays to subdue the Wolverines in a 62-13 Western Highlands Conference victory at Memorial Stadium.

Polk County (2-7, 1-2) had some offensive fireworks of its own, enough to trail Mitchell (7-2, 2-1) just 21-13 early in the second period.

But Mountaineer quarterback Noah Pitman proved a riddle the Wolverines couldn’t solve. Pitman threw for 305 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 152 yards and another score, leading Mitchell to four second-quarter touchdowns as the Mountaineers built a 42-13 halftime lead.

Mitchell’s explosiveness put pressure on Polk County’s offense to match, and the Wolverines kept pace for a time. But two fumbles, one deep in Mitchell territory, limited the Wolverines’ ability to do so.

“Every possession, every offensive play, is precious, and we’ve got to make something happen from a field position standpoint or a scoring standpoint,” said Polk County head coach Bruce Ollis.

Polk did that early, though Mitchell struck first as Tyler McKinney, playing through the emotions of losing his younger brother earlier in the week, caught a 35-yard pass from Pitman to put the Mountaineers up 7-0 with 8:45 left in the quarter.

Polk County immediately responded, driving 80 yards in a drive lasting more than five minutes. The Wolverines were able to effectively move the ball on the ground, converting a fourth-and-1 near midfield and finally scoring on Avery Edwards’ 14-yard scamper. Matias Akers added the point after to tie the game at 7 with 3:12 left in the period.

Mitchell answered with its own long drive, converting three third downs before Jordan Cox scored on a 19-yard run to make it 13-7 with nine seconds left in the first period. The Wolverines fumbled on their next possession, and the Mountaineers immediately capitalized, with McKinney catching a bubble screen and racing 51 yards to the end zone. That score and 2-point conversion put Mitchell up 21-7 with 10:28 left in the half.

Back came the Wolverine offense, again driving 80 yards but quickly thanks to Lukas Tipton, who broke through the Mitchell defense for a 74-yard run to the Mountaineer 3. Edwards rolled around left end and beat the Mitchell defense to the pylon for another score, and the Wolverines trailed just 21-13 with 9:26 left in the second period.

Pitman answered with a 69-yard touchdown run, and Polk appeared to be on the verge of again responding, with a Ryan Heider pass reception and key runs by Tipton and Bryce Jergenson helping move Polk inside the Mitchell 10.

But the Wolverines fumbled, and Pitman soon turned that mistake into points, again connecting with McKinney on a bubble screen that he converted into a 56-yard score. Ty Sparks added a 33-yard touchdown run in the final minute before halftime.

Pitman opened the third period with a 65-yard touchdown pass to Landon Miller and the Mountaineers were on their way to victory.

Tipton gained 109 yards on eight carries to lead Polk County, which returns home Friday to host Mountain Heritage for Senior Night. That game will also be regionally televised on WMYA.

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