Mountaineers ground and pound the KnightsMcCracken and Myers account for 283 of the 411 rushing yards
The Tuscola varsity football team learned twice in Friday’s homecoming game with North Henderson that three things can happen when you pass the ball — and two of those things are bad.
On Tuscola’s first play from scrimmage, North picked off senior quarterback Woody Cornwell at the Knights’ 31.
It took just seven plays to cover the 69 yards as Ashton Woodring threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Corey Foster with 5:36 remaining in the opening quarter to give North Henderson a 7-0 lead.
After that, Tuscola Head Coach Brandon Allen went back to the Mountaineers’ old-fashion, ground-and-pound rushing attack and unleashed juniors Houston McCracken and Bryce Myers.
The Knights had no answer.
The pair accounted for 283 yards of Tuscola’s 411 rushing yards and scored five touchdowns as the Mountaineers beat up North Henderson, 41-14, in a WNCAC game at C.E. Weatherby Stadium Friday night.
The Mountaineers (6-1 overall, 6-0 for playoff purposes) improved to 3-0 in the WNCAC and stay tied with Franklin for first place in the WNCAC standings. Tuscola will host Pisgah next Friday (Oct. 18) at C.E. Weatherby Stadium in the 50th meeting of the County Clash.
North Henderson dropped to 3-4 overall and 2-1 in the WNCAC.
McCracken rushed for a blue-collar 120 yards on 18 carries and scored on runs of 19, 12 yards and one yard, while Myers finished with a white-collar 163 yards on just seven carries and scored on runs of 92 and 48 yards.
Trailing 7-0, Tuscola tied the game on McCracken’s 19 TD run and Logan Lambert’s PAT with 2:15 left in the first quarter.
The Mountaineers took the lead (14-7) for good when Cornwell scored on a two-yard quarterback sneak with 2:53 left before halftime.
Tuscola held the Knights on their ensuing possession and eventually took over at its own five-yard line with just 44 seconds remaining before the halftime festivities.
From the shadows of their own end zone, the Mountaineers stunned North Henderson one play later when Myers scooted around the left end untouched for a 92-yard touchdown as the delighted Mountaineer homecoming crowd looked on with 13 seconds left in the second quarter.
With that back breaking touchdown and PAT, the Mountaineers roared into halftime with a 21-7 lead.
Shortly after Tuscola received the second half kickoff, a trick pass play backfired as McCracken’s halfback pass was intercepted by North Henderson at midfield.
The Knights only needed three plays to score as Woodring lofted a deep pass in the direction of Foster running the sideline. The Mountaineers, however, were not fooled and had two defenders involved in the coverage. But they collided while Foster hauled in the pass and trotted into the end zone to bring North Henderson to within seven points, 21-14, of Tuscola’s lead with more than 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
After that, Allen again went back to his team’s ground-and-pound and the Mountaineers responded in eight plays when McCracken scored his second TD of the night from 12 yards out to take a 28-14 lead after the PAT with 6:50 remaining in the third.
For the remainder of the game, it was all Tuscola.
On the Knights ensuing possession, Tuscola’s Eric Messer intercepted a Woodring pass at the Mountaineer 31 in the late stages of the third quarter. Cornwell & Company immediately went on another long, time-consuming drive that covered 69 yards in nine plays. McCracken capped it with his third TD of the game, a one-yard plunge, with more than nine minutes left in the game to take an insurmountable 35-14 lead after Lambert’s fifth PAT.
Tuscola did cash in one more touchdown with 18 seconds left in the game on a 48-yard run by Myers.
Tuscola finished with 515 yards in total offense compared to North Henderson’s 164.
Cornwell was 7-of-8 for 104 yards and added 29 yards on the ground. Ben Greene caught two passes for 29 yards, Daniel Smathers had two receptions for 30 yards, Adam Chambers finished with one catch for eight yards and Damon McDaniel hauled in a pass for 37 yards.
Other notable rushers for Tuscola were Michael Herbertson (7 carries for 43 yards), Greene (6 carries for 31) and Daniel Smathers (3 rushes for 25 yards).