Bryson City – Andrews entered Fridays contest on a serious roll. The Wildcats were 5-0 and ranked as high as 5th and as low as 8th in the state 1A polls. Wildcat faithful had every reason to belief that they could run the table in the SMC. The Maroon Devils opened SMC Friday after having two weeks of inactivity, due to COVID, and on a two game losing streak.
But in the end, as true sports fans know, none of it was worth the paper it was written on. The Maroon Devils, once again, executed a solid game plan and finished off four full quarters to pull off the upset by the score of 21-12. In many ways it was retribution for the Devils, who were soundly beaten by the Wildcats in the COVID shortened spring season. But then again, this whole season is looking more and more like a retribution season for the Devils.
Unlike the last two losses the Maroon Devils capitalized on field position to take an early lead. Swain used 8 plays to travel 38 yards and score the game’s first touchdown. Gabe Lillard did the honors on a 1 yard plunge. Gavin Lanning notched the extra point to give Swain a 7-0 lead with 4:58 left in the 1st quarter of play.
With time winding down before halftime the Wildcats pinned Swain deep in their own territory on their own 1 yard line following a perfectly executed punt. Lillard put a charge in the crowd on the first play. Moving to his right it appeared as though he would be content to push ahead and carve his team some much needed yardage. But Lillard suddenly side stepped to his left and split two defenders, then neatly avoided a couple more defenders before breaking free and racing down the field for a 99 yard touchdown run. Lanning again made the extra point to put Swain up 14-0 with 1:32 remaining before the half.
Andrews answered Lillard’s run with an impressive 10 play drive in just a little over a minute and a half. Austin Martin scored on a 6 yard run with no time left on the clock. The Wildcats two point attempt failed leaving the score at 14-6 going into halftime.
In the third quarter the Devils mounted a 6 play 48 yard drive that ended with Lillard’s 3rd touchdown of the night. This one coming on another 1 yard plunge. Lanning tacked on the extra point to give Swain a 21-6 lead.
Swain would make the lead hold up until the closing minutes of the game. Andrews scored on another Martin run, this time from 33 yards out with just a little under 4 minutes to play. The two point try failed leaving the score 21-12.
Lawson Woodard recovered the onside kick, which allowed the Devils to run more time off the clock and forced Andrews to use up all of their time outs. Swain would turn the ball over on downs on the Andrews 30. The Wildcats final drive would end on downs on the Wildcats 40 yard line.
Gabe Lillard paced all rushers with a game high 162 yards on 19 carries and 3 touchdowns. Carson Taylor finished with 64 yards on 11 carries. Lillard was 4 of 6 through the air for 75 yards. He completed 2 passes to Donnavin Groenewold for 23 yard, a 30 yard strike to Cooper Hyatt and a 22 yard strike to Nathan Bogdanowicz.
The Wildcats had two players, Isaac Weaver (146 yards on 26 carries) and Austin Martin (134 yards on 18 carries), to over a 100 yards rushing. Despite that fact the Maroon Devil defense was rock solid all night. Swain limited Andrews to 4 of 11 conversions on 3rd down and 1 of 4 on 4th down. Carson Taylor led the defense with 16 tackles, while Lucas Sutton added 14, Josh Collins and Zach Stepp had 10 each.
Swain will travel to Hayesville this Friday.