Hayesville – Those who have long followed Smoky Mountain Conference football know that every week is a battle. Friday’s matchup between Swain and Hayesville, was every bit that plus some more, as both teams battled for every yard in a rain soaked affair. Both defenses were stingy, tough and hard hitting, making offensive drives rare and extremely important. In the end it was the Maroon Devils who survived, their own mistakes, steady rain and a very good Hayesville team to walk away with a tough 21-13 win.
Hayesville broke what looked as though it would be a scoreless first half, with the game’s first touchdown with only 23 seconds left before the half. It would culminate a short 6 play 37 yard drive for the Jackets, as Taylor McClure raced in from 18 yards out. The drive was set up by a Yellow Jacket interception which gave them some of their best field position of the first half on the Maroon Devil 37 yard line.
Late in the third quarter the Maroon Devils mounted their best drive of the night. After a short punt by Hayesville the Devils took over on their own 44 yard line with 3:08 left in the third period. Josiah Glaspie and Josh Collins went to work carrying the ball on 8 of the 9 plays of the drive. The 3rd quarter ended with Swain on the Hayesville 10 yard line facing 3rd and 10. Swain quarterback Reese Winchester used a perfect play action fake to Glaspie to roll to the left and hit a wide open Cole Wikle with a 10 yard touchdown pass. Following the touchdown the Devils went for 2 points and the lead. On that play Josiah Glaspie was stopped just shy of the goal line, leaving the score 7-6 in favor of the Jackets.
Hayesville would answer with what turned out to be one of the lone big plays of the night. Hayesville quarterback Tate Roberts, narrowly avoided the pass rush of Nse Uffort and hit Isaac Chandler behind the Swain defense, Chandler won the race to the endzone to complete a 69 yard touchdown pass for Hayesville. The extra point was blocked by Josh Collins to leave the score 13-6.
The Maroon Devils showed their grit on what was the most important drive of the game, and perhaps the season so far. Taking over with 10:03 left in the game Swain would march 69 yards on 10 plays. Collins, Glaspie and Reese Winchester did all of the work on the ground. Josiah Glaspie, would use a key block by Nolan Fisher, to bull his way into the endzone from 10 yards out bringing the Maroon Devils to within one at 13-12. Coach Holt and his staff elected to go for two points and the potential winning points. Josh Collins would not be denied and carried it over for the crucial extra point, giving Swain the lead at 14-13 with roughly 5 minutes to go in the game.
Swain would find an opportunity to put the game away. Hayesville turned the ball over on downs from their own 39 yard line with 3:50 remaining. The Devils used just 3 running plays to find the endzone for the final score. It would be Josh Collins on an option play who tip-toed his way down the sideline to score from 18 yards out. Brendon Lanning kicked the extra point to make the score 21-13.
For the Maroon Devils the win overshadowed a turnover plagued game for them. In total it was 5 turnover, 3 interceptions and 2 fumbles. All total the Devils fumbled 6 times, only losing 2. Far and away the most turnovers in a game all season.
On the ground the Devils finished with 188 yards rushing. Josh Collins had a game high 96 yards on 19 carries, scoring once and running for an extra point. Josiah Glaspie finished with 87 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown of his own. Winchester was 6 of 10 through the air for 50 yards. Corey Stillwell, James Arch, James Stroman, Cole Wikle, Josh Collins and Andruw Cody each had a catch on the night.