FOOTBALL: Braves fall to Bulldogs in conference opener
By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
MURPHY – Cherokee (3-3) went to .500 on the season as they traveled to Murphy on Friday, Sept. 23. The Bulldogs (5-1) topped the Braves, riddled with injuries in several key positions, by a score of 42-13.
Tye Mintz, Braves junior quarterback, was 1 of 4 passing for 8 yards on the night. Isaiah Evans led Cherokee on the ground with 13 rushes for 34 yards and 1 touchdown. Holden Straughan caught 2 passes on the night, including one 12-yard touchdown, for 59 total yards. Cade Mintz also played in the quarterback position, but stats were unavailable for him at press time.
Other Cherokee receivers included: George Swayney 2 rec for 37 yards and Cade Mintz 1 rec for 2 yards.
Murphy’s Joey Curry connected on 8 of 13 passes for 108 yards, and 1 touchdown. Slade McTaggart led the Bulldogs with 5 rushes, 58 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Murphy garnered 19 first downs to Cherokee’s 15.
Straughan led Cherokee defensively with 7 tackles followed by Will Davis 5. Tye Mintz, Anthony Toineeta, and Damion Blanton had 4 each.
Cherokee got the ball to start this contest. They began at their own 9-yard line, but were held by the Murphy defense and forced to punt after a three-and-out.
The Bulldogs began their first possession on their own 41-yard line. Their 8-play drive culminated in a 1-yard touchdown run by K.J. Allen. Joey Helton’s point-after kick was good and Murphy led the Braves 7-0 with 6:54 left in the first quarter.
Both defenses held strong as each team had to punt on their next possessions.
Cherokee began their third possession on their own 30-yard line and put in five plays. They ended up having to punt the ball away after taking a little over a minute off the clock.
Murphy took over on the Cherokee 43-yard line and were off and running with McTaggart putting in a 26-yard run on first down. Their 4-play drive was topped off with a 2-yard touchdown run by McTaggart. Helton added the extra point to make it 14-0 Bulldogs with 22 seconds left in the first quarter.
After beginning on their own 20-yard line on their fourth possession, Cherokee took the game into the second quarter, but had to punt after about two minutes and four plays.
Murphy took over on the Cherokee 30-yard line and put together a 4-play drive that ended with Kadrian McRae running the ball in for a touchdown from the 5-yard line. Helton’s point-after kick was good, and the Bulldogs led the Braves 21-0 with 8:43 left in the second quarter.
Cherokee was held to a three-and-out on their fifth possession of the game that began on their own 20 yard line. They punted the ball away and Murphy started out their next possession on the Cherokee 31-yard line. They put another six points on the board after three plays and a 16-yard touchdown run by McTaggart. The point-after kick by Helton was good, leaving the score at 28-0 in favor of the Bulldogs.
Cherokee’s sixth possession took about two minutes off of the clock, but the Braves were held to another three-and-out after starting on their own 20-yard line. They punted the ball back into Murphy territory and forced the Bulldogs to set up shop at the Murphy 23-yard line.
Murphy started their sixth possession with a 27-yard run for a first down by McRae and ended it with a 15-yard pass from Curry to Colton Posey for a touchdown. Helton’s point-after kick was good and the Bulldogs led the Braves 35-0 with 1:26 left in the half – a lead they would take into halftime.
Due to NCHSAA rules, the clock ran continuously due to the score differential in the second half. Murphy got the ball first, beginning at the Braves’ 48-yard line. They put together two quick pass plays and set up a first and goal on the 5-yard line. Cherokee’s defense pushed them back to the 10-yard line, but Ian Davis found a hole and ran the ball in 10 yards for the touchdown. Helton put up another good point-after kick, and the score was 42-0 in favor of the Bulldogs.
Cherokee began their first possession of the second half at their own 33-yard line. Cade Mintz got the 10-play drive going with a 25-yard pass to George Swayney for a first down. A few plays later, with 19.6 seconds left in the third, Evans ran the ball in from four yards out for a touchdown. The point-after kick by Toineeta was good, leaving the score at 42-7 in favor of Murphy.
Cherokee’s defense held the Bulldogs to a three-and-out on Murphy’s next possession. The Bulldogs got the ball back quickly, though, after Cherokee fumbled the ball on the kickoff and it was recovered by Murphy’s Trae Carson. Murphy set up shop on their own 47-yard line, but were forced to punt once again after Cherokee’s defense held them to another three-and-out.
With 2:26 left in the game, Cherokee began on their own 22-yard line and got their passing game going. Cade Mintz threw the ball 18 yards to Blake Smith on first down, then 46 yards to Straughan on the next play. The following play, Mintz threw the ball 12 yards again to Straughan for a touchdown as time expired. The final score was Murphy 42, Cherokee 13.
The Braves have a bye this week and will be at home against the Swain Co. Maroon Devils on Friday, Oct. 7 at 7:30pm.
To view or purchase photos from this game, visit: https://onefeather.smugmug.com/SPORTS/FOOTBALL/BRAVES-FOOTBALL-2016/At-Murphy-September-23/