By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
BRYSON CITY – Cherokee (6-0) scored 45 unanswered points to top cross-county rival Swain Co. (2-4) on Friday, Sept. 29. The Braves amassed 542 total yards of offense (10.6 yards per play) while holding the Maroon Devils to 345 on the night. It was the first time since 2008 that the Braves defeated the Maroon Devils.
The Mintz brothers, Tye and Cade, were involved in each of the Braves seven touchdowns on the night. Tye Mintz, senior quarterback, completed 7 of 9 passes for 267 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception, and he ran the ball 13 times for 116 yards and three touchdowns. Cade Mintz, sophomore wide receiver, caught four passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns, and he had a kickoff return for a touchdown that helped turn the tide in the game.
Blake Smith, Braves junior wide receiver, caught two passes for 99 yards and one touchdown, and Terence Ledford, junior running back, came into the ball game in the second half and carried the ball 13 times for 96 yards (7.4 yards per carry).
Cherokee was led defensively by Cecil Walkingstick with 5.5 tackles followed by Tye Mintz with 4.5. Holden Straughan, who had four tackles on the night, Byron Locust, and Chace Andrews all got one tackle for loss.
Brodie Bowman, Swain Co. senior quarterback, led the Maroon Devils with 112 yards rushing on 17 carries, and he completed 6 of 15 passes for 130 yards.
The game started well for Swain Co. as they took the opening kickoff and drove down the field for the first score of the night. Bowman ran in from one yard out to make it 7-0 at the 7:25 mark of the first quarter. It would be the only time the Maroon Devils would get into the end zone all night as Cherokee would score six seven touchdowns in a row.
Midway through the second quarter, Tye Mintz connected with Cade Mintz on a 14-yard deflected pass in the end zone. The point after attempt failed, and Cherokee trailed 7-6 with 6:40 left before the half.
The Braves got the ball back and drove down the field culminating in a 13-yard touchdown run by Tye Mintz. Cherokee converted on the two-point play with Tye Mintz throwing to Cade Mintz, and Cherokee led 14-7.
Swain Co. got the ball back with 52 seconds left before the half and drove deep into Cherokee territory. With just seconds left in the half, Bowman tried a quarterback run around the right end, but Tye Mintz was there to deliver a big hit and stop him as time expired.
Cade Mintz would break the game wide open on the very first play of the third quarter. He fielded the kickoff at his own 3-yard line, ran down the left sideline, avoided several Maroon Devils tackles, and sprinted up the field 97 yards for a touchdown. The point after failed, and Cherokee led 20-7 just 14 seconds into the third quarter.
Cherokee would add three more scores in the third as Tye Mintz threw two long touchdown passes – 89 yards to Blake Smith and 86 yards to Cade Mintz – and ran 28 yards for a third score. The two-point conversions failed on the first two scores, but Tino Pete hit the point-after after Mintz’s run, and the Braves led 39-7 at the end of the third.
The Braves would add one more score as Mintz ran for a 3-yard touchdown. The point after failed, and Cherokee led 45-7 which is how the game would end.
Cherokee is back at home on Friday, Oct. 6 at 7:30pm against the Rosman Tigers (2-5).