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Harrison bounces back by topping UL

MORRISTOWN — With its top two tailbacks sidelined with injuries, Harrison Central turned to a newcomer. The Huskies also had Kobe Mitchell.

With Mitchell accounting for five touchdowns and converted guard Nathan Bertolino rambling for 75 yards and six points, the Huskies (3-1) bounced back from their lone loss by doubling up homestanding Union Local, 40-20, Friday night at a chill-filled Jets Stadium.

Mitchell, Harrison Central’s do-everything, didn’t disappoint as he ran for two touchdowns, passed for a pair and returned his first-ever kickoff 82 yards for six points.

“I really didn’t feel any added pressure,” the soft-spoken Mitchell said. “I trust my guys. It doesn’t matter who’s back there (in the backfield). Everyone comes to practice every day and works hard. I trust all of them.”

Harrison Central played without James Brooks and Caleb Cowans who were both banged up in the loss at Bellaire.

“Kobe did a nice job for us tonight,” Harrison Central head coach Anthony Hayes allowed. “We pulled our starting right guard and put him at tailback tonight. He did a heckuva job for us as well.

“A ton of injuries. We were a patchwork unit this week but that’s a testament to my entire coaching staff,” Hayes praised. “Every single guy on the coaching staff did an outstanding job. I couldn’t be more prouder of my coaching staff tonight.”

While the Huskies offense was racking up the points, the defense came up huge on the Jets opening drive.

Behind the running of sophomore Jaksan Price, Union Local had first-and-goal at the Huskies’ 5. However, a 6-yard loss on second down stalled the drive which saw a fourth-and-goal run stopped at the 4.

On the fourth play of the ensuing drive, Mitchell lobbed the ball overtop of a Jet defender and into the arms of tight end Jonathan Vermillion. The 6-4 receiver hauled in the pass, broke a tackle at midfield and was off to the races to complete a 76-yard scoring strike. Jace Madzia booted the first of his four PATs and it was 7-0.

Harrison Central scored on its next two possessions in taking a 21-0 lead with 3:36 left in the first half. Mitchell did the honors both times, scoring on runs of 14 and 1.

The Jets (1-3) got on the scoreboard just before the half when sophomore quarterback Carter Blake found classmate Tre Rex in the back of the end zone from 13 yards out. Parker Skedel’s kick made it 21-7 at the break.

Union Local kept the momentum going with a long drive to start the second half, only to be turned away once again after a first-and-goal at the 6. Harrison Central’s Parker Hutton intercepted a fourth-down pass in the end zone.

“That was the difference in the game, wasn’t it?” Union Local head coach Bernie Thompson quizzed about the two drives that came up empty. “Tonight was a frustrating game because the final score doesn’t indicate how close the game was,” Thompson said. “Once again like last week, we didn’t take advantage of our opportunities. We need to fine tune some things, but we’re so close. I know I’ve been saying that and I don’t like saying that constantly, but we’re so close to being a very good team. Just a few missed opportunities on a few drives, but credit to Harrison Central.”

Mitchell finished with 212 yards passing on 14-of-23. He also ran nine times for 57 yards. Bertolino had a 44-yard TD run and Trevor Carman had seven receptions for 74 stripes. Vermillion caught four balls for 109.

Price carried 25 times for 157 yards to lead the Jets, who also received 86 yards and a TD from Hayden McCrate in his return from emergency appendix surgery. Blake completed 10 of 26 passes for 139 yards and the two scores. However, he was picked off twice as Carman also recorded an INT.

After Blake found Carter Loase down the right sidelines for 40 yards to make it 27-13, the Jets elected to kick it deep.Mistake.

Mitchell fielded the ball at his own 18 and slowly started upfield. He broke to his left and easily outran everyone to the end zone.

“That’s my first time ever returning a kickoff in high school. It was pretty neat,” Mitchell said of the runback. “I saw a little crease and just took off. It worked out for us.”

“Kobe Mitchell is a phenomenal player,” Thompson allowed. “He really is.”

Harrison Central returns home to Wagner Field next Friday as Martins Ferry makes a visit. Union Local treks to Warren.

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