Mitchell puts on a show as Harrison stuns St. C.
• Junior quarterback throws for 365; Accounts for six TDs
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Anthony Hayes isn’t a big man. Heck, most of his players and coaches probably tower over him.
So, when the clock struck all zeros Friday night at Red Devil Stadium after his Harrison Central football team stunned St. Clairsville, Hayes, the Huskies’ second-year head coach, was hard to find.
He was running around hugging, slapping high-fives with and, on some occasions, kissing anyone he could find as what seemed like all of Harrison County raced onto the turf.
They had good reason. The Huskies’ last-minute 42-35 victory returned the treasured Coal Bucket back to, what Hayes termed, “home” for the first time since 2009 and erased the disappointment of a 43-point beatdown last week at Martins Ferry.
“Without question, this is the biggest victory during my tenure,” Hayes said gleefully after emerging from the friendly fracas. “It’s probably the biggest upset in school history that I’ve been a part of.”
Clayton Nunez hauled in a 30-yard strike from Kobe Mitchell, leaping between two defenders near the back of the end zone with 30.7 seconds left for what proved to the game winner as the Huskies (2-4) went 59 yards in 69 seconds to send the Homecoming crowd home disappointed.
Mitchell was spectacular, finished with a career-high 365 yards passing and four touchdowns, while rushing for two more. He hit Nunez with two scores in the fourth.
“I was just thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, this is about to happen,'” Nunez exclaimed about Mitchell’s bomb which came on 2nd-and-11. “Then, I caught it and it actually happened.
“It was an insane moment. The best of my life. I guarantee it.”
The Red Devils (4-2) looked poised to grab the lead as they drove to the Harrison Central 25 with 1:18 showing on the clock. But on 4th-and-3, St. C. was stopped for a 1-yard loss, setting up the Huskies’ opportunity.
“That was huge for us,” Hayes said. “We missed an opportunity to score with about six minutes left and were able to get the ball back and derive down the field.”
After an incompletion on the first play of the winning drive, Mitchell went up the middle himself for 16 to get into Red Devils territory. Then, after spiking the ball to stop the clock, hit Trevor Carman for nine yards to get to the St. C. 34.
Three plays later, Mitchell dropped back and found the 5-8, 175-pound Nunez on a play Hayes felt confident in.
“We thought that if they intercepted it in the end zone, no big deal,” he said. “We just wanted to have a chance. We felt like we had pretty good matchups, too. Give our kid credit. He went up and made a heckuva play.”
Any chance for the Red Devils to tie the game disappeared on the kickoff when they fumbled away. The loss was St. Clairsville’s second straight and second consecutive at home — something that hasn’t happened since 2017 when South Range won in Week 10 and Philo prevailed in the playoff opener a week later.
Red Devils head coach Brett McLean touted Mitchell’s capabilities earlier this week, and Friday, he was proven correct.
“He’s electric,” he said. “That’s what he is and that’s what he was (Friday),” he said in a subdued St. C. fieldhouse. “I knew it. He made it happen. I have to give them a ton of credit. The upperclass kids were the ones they leaned on, especially him.
“We have a lot of soul-searching to do.”
St. Clairsville’s Aaron Jordan ran for 237 yards and a score on a night when both teams traded touchdowns like young kids trade baseball cards. Defenses were ineffective, for the most part.
“Coach McLean does a great job,” Hayes said. “His kids are tough.”
Mitchell was on fire most of the night, able to answer the bell following most every St. C. score. He had a hand in 442 of Harrison Central’s 477 yards of total offense.
“This was the best he’s looked all year,” Hayes said of the junior. “We gave him time, and that was big. “Our offensive line did an outstanding job.”
Hayes was on the Huskies’ staff 10 years ago when Harrison Central came to St C. and prevailed in Week 10 to secure a playoff berth. But from a mental standpoint, nothing can top what happened Friday night.
“Our kids have been against it all year,” he said. “we’ve battled tooth and nail through injuries, through low numbers … we asked our kids to play their hearts out every snap.
“They did it. They were focused. This was the most focused I’ve seen us in practice, especially coming off last week.
“They earned this victory.”
Ja’Von Lyons was crowned Homecoming king prior to kickoff, while Rachel Sorge unveiled the winning rose at halftime to becoming queen.