Tuscola grinds down Smoky MountainMountaineers rush for 355 yards, Cronwell tosses a pair of TDs in 38-12 win
All the players, coaches and cheerleaders of the 1972 Tuscola state co-championship football team, including Gary Allen the father of current Mountaineer head coach Brandon Allen, were celebrated prior to Friday night’s kickoff.
After the ceremony, the 2013 edition of the Mountaineers proceeded to grind down Smoky Mountain in the manner with which the former champions were known, trouncing the Mustangs, 38-12, in a WNC Athletic Conference contest at C.E. Weatherby Stadium.
Tuscola, which improved to 4-1 overall, 4-0 for playoff purposes and 1-0 in the WNCAC, finished with 355 yards (46 carries) on the ground.
Smoky Mountain fell to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the WNCAC.
In addition, Tuscola senior quarterback Woody Cornwell was 8-for-9 for 140 yards with two touchdown passes.
After a botched nine-yard punt by Smoky Mountain, Tuscola marched 54-yards in seven plays and Michael Herbertson capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown run. Logan Lambert added the PAT for a 7-0 lead with 4:21 remaining in the first quarter.
Lambert also added a 27-yard field goal with 2:02 left in the second quarter to give Tuscola a 10-0 halftime lead.
“Offensively, we changed a few things because we knew Smoky had two weeks to prepare for our split back veer,” said Tuscola Head Coach Brandon Allen. “So we wanted to come out and show them something a little bit different. Even though we are comfortable with our offense, we wanted to see how they would adjust to our full house backfield and see if we could move the football on them.
“I thought Smoky was really well coached and a good football team. They did make a few adjustments. But I saw some positive things in that scheme as well that we can use in future games.”
Tuscola went to the air as time expired in the third quarter and took a 17-0 lead into the final 12 minutes when Cornwell completed a 24-yard pass to Daniel Smathers (46 yards on two catches).
Smoky Mountain answered with a touchdown of their own three minutes later as Zeb Spier (son of WCU head football coach Mark Spier) completed a 45-yard touchdown pass to Zachariah Carter to slice the Mountaineers’ lead to 17-6 with 9:24 remaining in the game.
However, the Mountaineers answered promptly in four consecutive Cornwell runs, including his final rush, a 35-yard touchdown gallop to stretch the Tuscola lead to 24-7 with 7:31 left.
Cornwell finished the game with 105 rushing yards on 13 attempts. He also had 245 yards in total offense.
“Woody throws a great football,” said Allen. “We got some good receivers and the pass is there as the teams start cheating up to stop the run. That’s when we are going to start throwing the ball and Smoky did that. They started bringing eight in the box. So we went to the pass.
“Our offensive line did a great job giving Woody time to find his receivers. While we are going to be a run first offense, its good to know you got a kid like Woody and several good receivers like we have to turn to when we need to throw the ball.”
After an Adam Chambers interception, Cornwell connected with Damon McDaniels (83 yards on two receptions) on a 41-yard pass in the end zone to increase the Mountaineers’ lead to 31-6 with 5:05 left in the game.
But Smoky was not quite finished as Chase Morgan took the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 31-12. The Mustangs two point conversion attempt failed, leaving the score at 31-12.
In Tuscola’s next possession, junior Bryce Myers scooted off the right end for 74 of his game-high 186 yards on 18 carries to the Mustangs’ three. From there, junior Houston McCracken (39 yards on seven carries) scored to seal the deal.
Tuscola will travel to Brevard Friday, Oct. 4, with a scheduled 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
“I told the kids after the game we have got to get better and we are going to come in Monday and work hard to get better,” said Allen. “We are happy with being 4-1 but not satisfied as a team. This is a good place but is not where we want to finish. We have to go to Brevard next week and hopefully play up to our potential.
“I would also like to give credit to our defense and defensive coaches. They kept us in the game until we got some things rolling offensively.”