By Carey Phillips
Brevard scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to break open a defensive struggle and defeat Smoky Mountain 24-6 Friday at Brevard.
The Blue Devils took over sole possession of first place in the Mountain Six Conference football standings.
Quarterback Baxter Swicegood was Brevard’s leading rusher with 142 yards in 10 carries. He completed three of eight passes for 28 yards.
Isaiah Rathbone gained 100 yards and scored two TDs in 19 attempts for the Devils.
The SM offense was led by Dustin Stephens, who carried 20 times for 119 yards and scored his team’s only TD. Will Frady totaled 47 yards in 18 attempts.
Rain fell throughout the game, and the Mustangs did not attempt a pass in the first half. Caleb Lominac was two of 12 in the second half for 24 yards and was intercepted four times.
The teams had combined for just 116 yards of offense until the Devils’ final possession of the first half.
Starting at their 13 with a little more than a minute remaining, they quickly moved downfield. Nathan Stockton had a 15-yard run, and Swicegood had gains of 30 and 20 yards on a pair of quarterback draws. On the final play of the half, Parker Grant kicked a 28-yard field goal giving Brevard a 3-0 lead.
The Mustangs lost 9 yards on the first play of the second half, but a 13-yard run by Stephens and a 15-yard penalty moved the ball near midfield.
SM was forced to punt, and Tripp Harris had a 20-yard return to the 28. Stockton had 22-yard run before the Devils punted pinning SM on its 5.
Three plays later, Harris intercepted Lominac’s pass and had an 18-yard return to the 7. The defense held, and the Mustangs dodged a bullet when Grant missed a 22-yard field goal.
SM got its offense going and drove 80 yards in 10 plays. Stephens had a 14-yard run before breaking off a 42-yard run around the right side to the 5. He scored on a 4-yard run two plays later. A problem on the snap caused the extra point to be no good leaving the score 6-3 with 11:19 left in the game.
Angel Whitesides returned the kickoff 23 yards to his 42. Swicegood completed a 14-yard pass to Stockton, and Rathbone had a 10-yard run. Rathbone broke off a 25-yard run to the 4. He scored from the 3 two plays later capping the nine-play drive. Parker kicked the first of his three extra points giving Brevard a 10-6 lead.
Harris intercepted Lominac for the second time three plays after the kickoff and had a 29-yard return to the 16. Rathbone scored on a 14-yard run two plays later extending the lead to 17-6 at the 5:05 mark.
A pair of penalties moved the ball to the Devil 15 on the Mustangs’ next possession. The threat ended when Graham Phillips picked off Lominac’s pass at the 18.
Two plays later, Swicegood faked a handoff and raced 79 yards to the end zone for a 24-6 margin with 1:58 on the clock.
Chris Conner had the final interception of a Lominac pass at the SM 32, and the Devils ran out the clock.
Clayton Frady led the Mustangs in tackles with seven and a half. Derrick Farmer had five and a half, while Cole James, Danner Hill and Damon Figueroa all finished with four.
12 First Downs 11
43-157 Rushes-Yds. 38-285
2-12-4 Passing 3-9-0
24 Passing Yds. 28
5-28.8 Punts-Avg. 4-29.0
2-0 Fumbles-Lost 2-0
2-10 Penalties-Yds. 6-60