The Transylvania Times -

Robinson, Cougars Run Past Blue Devils In Opener


August 21, 2017

Jeremiah Reed

Blue Devil senior Stevi Benjamin cuts back against a Mountain Heritage defender in the first half of Brevard's season opener Friday night. Benjamin had some big runs in the game, but several were negated due to penalties. Brevard's offense struggled early, but was more efficient in the second half. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be enough as the Cougars scored three times in the third quarter on their way to a 30-7 victory.

On a night when the Brevard offense never found its footing, the defense held one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the mountains to just eight points in the first half before fatigue set in and the Mountain Heritage Cougars scored three consecutive touchdowns on the way to beating the Blue Devils 30-7 in Friday's season opener.

The Blue Devils knew squaring off against the Cougars in week one would be a difficult challenge, but, despite the final score, Brevard did come away with positives after the loss.

"I saw a team that fought hard and a lot of young guys get a taste of their first varsity action," said head coach Craig Pritchett. "In the first half we held one of the top teams and top players in Western North Carolina to eight points. We gave up some big plays, but these kids continued to battle and they fought to the wire."

Brevard's defensive effort was the story of the first half.

After receiving the kickoff, Mountain Heritage moved the ball just over midfield into Blue Devil territory. Brevard stuffed a couple of short rushes that would have set up third-and-seven, but a personal foul penalty moved the ball to the 32 and provided a free first down.

The Cougars converted another third down on a bootleg pass before being faced with third-and-goal from the 10.

From there, Mountain Heritage ran a handoff up the middle and found an empty lane as running back Dathan Robinson scored the first points of the game.

The Cougars followed up with a successful two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead.

Offensively, penalties also hurt the effort early on.

A big run from Stevi Benjamin that would have set Brevard up in Cougar territory was called back for holding and quarterback Mitchell Johnson was sacked for an eight-yard loss on second down, effectively killing the drive.

The Blue Devil defense forced a quick three-and-out to get Brevard the ball back at the Cougar 45-yard line. But after another huge rush from Benjamin, this time an 18-yard gain to the 27, the Blue Devils fumbled two plays later and the Cougars recovered the ball.

Mountain Heritage utilized quarterback Trey Robinson's running ability all night and the senior got more comfortable as the game went along. He picked up a 36-yard gain on third down to get the ball to Brevard's 36, but the Blue Devils stuffed him on a fourth down rush attempt to take over possession.

Although the defense did its part in keeping the game close – coming up with two more stops on fourth down in the second quarter – the offense never got on the same page, recording four straight three-and-outs before halftime.

After receiving the second half kickoff, Johnson hit Luke Ellenberger with a quick screen pass for 13 yards, but on third down Johnson was sacked for a nine-yard loss.

A deep punt from Aiden Green pinned the Cougars at their own 17.

However, Robinson broke the defensive dam of Brevard, taking the ball off the left hand side, down the sideline and all the way to the end zone on their first play of the half.

Mountain Heritage tacked on another two-point conversion to take a 16-0 lead with 8:52 in the third quarter.

Johnson and the offense tried to respond, as a pass completion to Breylon Owens moved the ball to the Cougar 42.

Moments later, Brevard kept the offense on the field facing fourth-and-five, but a bobbled snap killed the play before it began.

Mountain Heritage struck quickly once again.

After a handoff picked up 17 yards on the first play, Robinson took the quarterback keeper 45 yards for another score moments later to give the Cougars a 24-0 lead.

Brevard's next drive started with hope, as Green reeled in a nice over-the-shoulder catch for roughly 30 yards. But a holding and false start penalty put the offense in a second-and-24 hole from which they couldn't recover.

On the ensuing possession, Robinson scored his third touchdown of the quarter, increasing the Cougars' lead to 30-0 following a failed two-point attempt.

The Blue Devils moved inside the Cougars' 10-yard line on their next drive, but the offense couldn't convert facing fourth-and-goal from just shy of four yards out and Mountain Heritage took over.

Robinson kept at it, picking up another big run to move the ball inside Brevard territory before the Cougars mishandled a snap and the Blue Devil defense recovered.

They used the takeaway to finally get on the board, as short passes from Johnson and a few third-down conversion rushes from Benjamin eventually set up a short 22-yard bubble pass to Kane Deshauteurs who did most of the legwork, shirking one tackle and slamming into a defender at the goal line to put Brevard on the board with 3:44 to play.

The Cougars proceeded to run out the clock on their final possession for the win.

Brevard's defense left everything they had on the field Friday night, keeping the score close and matching up with the Cougars' physical, bruising style.

Pritchett said fatigue played a factor in some of the big run plays in the second half, but overall, he was proud of the group's effort.

Jeremiah Reed

The Blue Devil defense was busy all night trying to slow down the power rushing attack of the Cougars. Senior quarterback Trey Robinson (No. 15) did the bulk of the damage for Mountain Heritage. Robinson rushed for 312 yards and scored three times in the third quarter. The defense had a solid showing in the first half, stuffing several fourth-and-short opportunities and limiting the Cougars to just eight points, but wore down a bit in the second half, which resulted in some big plays.

"When you play a bunch football and have guys playing both ways, eventually those big plays will pop, but I'm proud of the defense," he said. "They held us in this game. We know our defense is going to carry our team this year and those defensive leaders are going to fly around and give us everything they've got."

As for the offense, whether it was penalties, some missed assignments on pass protection, or miscues on snaps, the chemistry never meshed among Brevard's young players.

That being said, the unit did look better toward the end of the game, and Benjamin showed off some of his big-play potential.

Looking ahead, Pritchett said he doesn't think the offense isn't far from gelling and becoming more efficient.

"I thought the timing was off on a few things, whether it was pressure or whether it was a snap. You can't point a finger at one position, there's several things that go together for an offense to run smoothly. I think we're close," he said.

Brevard has one week to shore things up before hosting the Rosman Tigers in the county rivalry game this Friday.


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