FOOTBALL: Three-score second half lifts Mustangs over Braves

by Aug 21, 2023SPORTS di-ne-lv-di-yi0 comments


One Feather Asst. Editor


Note: The One Feather only received defensive stats for this game.  All times and yardages are recorded by One Feather staff at the game to the best of our ability. 

CHEROKEE, N.C. – A big second half lifted the Smoky Mountain Mustangs (1-0) over Cherokee (0-1) in the season opener for the Braves at Ray Kinsland Stadium on the evening of Friday, Aug. 18.  The Braves only trailed by one point (14-13) at halftime, but three scores for the Mustangs in the second half was the difference as Smoky Mountain won 34-13.

Michael Driver, Braves quarterback, runs into the end zone from the 1-yard line for a score in the second quarter of a game against Smoky Mountain at Ray Kinsland Stadium on the evening of Friday, Aug. 18. The Mustangs topped the Braves 34-13 in the season opener for both teams. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photos)


On the fifth play of the game, Brandon Santiago sacked Kavan Wilson, Smoky Mountain quarterback, causing a fumble which was recovered by Luke Smith.  The Braves took over in good field position at the Smoky Mountain 40-yard-line.  Six plays later, Driver hit Mato Grant on a 5-yard touchdown pass.  Nathaniel Littlejohn added the extra-point, and the Braves led 7-0 at the 6:55 mark of the first quarter.

The Mustangs started their second possessions of the game at their own 49-yard-line and answered Cherokee’s score three minutes later as Da’Mare Williams ran for a 5-yard touchdown.  Sawyer Snider hit the point-after kick, and the game was tied at 7-7 with 3:31 left in the first.

The Braves’ next possession was almost a three-and-out, but a Mustangs penalty kept the drive going.  Several plays later, Driver ran in from the 1-yard-line on third and goal.  The point-after kick failed, and Cherokee led 13-7 at the 9:00 mark in the second quarter.

Five plays later, Smoky Mountain answered as Jarek Jones ran for a 28-yard touchdown.  Snider added the point-after, and the Mustangs led 14-13 which is the lead they’d take into the locker room.

Cherokee had to punt on their first possession of the second half.  The Mustangs started on their own 29-yard-line.  Five plays later, Jones ran 40 yards for his second rushing touchdown of the game.  The point-after kick failed, and Smoky Mountain led 20-13 with 6:41 left in the third.

Cherokee’s Luke Smith (#6) recovered a Smoky Mountain fumble caused by teammate Brandon Santiago (#22) on the first possession of the game.

Cherokee’s next three possessions ended on an interception, punt, and a fumble.

Smoky Mountain added two scores in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run by Isaiah McNeely at the 10:20 mark and a 29-yard run by Jones with four minutes left in the game.  Snider hit both point-after attempts, and the Mustangs took the win by a final of 34-13

Full defensive stats for the Braves are as follows: Elijah Lineberry, 2 assist tackles, 3 solo; Luke Smith, 3 assist, 3 solo, 1 fumble recovery; Jonathan Saylor, 1 solo, 1 pass break-up; Josh Phillips, 1 assist, 1 solo; Shiloh Woodson, 1 assist, 1 solo; Josiah Teesateskie, 5 assist, 2 solo, 1 fumble recovery; Tayvin Bark, 4 assist; Brandon Santiago, 3 assist, 1 fumble caused; Luke Climbingbear, 12 assist, 3 solo, 1 fumble caused; Trevor Hill-Ledford, 1 assist; Mato Grant, 7 assist, 1 solo; Emiliano Garcia, 1 assist; Julius Pepion, 1 assist; Chaske Raines, 3 assist; Jayden Tramper, 3 assist, 1 solo; Carl McCoy, 1 solo; Chantin Tramper, 1 solo; and Emery Driver, 2 assist.