By Noah Dalton
MARENGO – Mitchell High School picked up their first win of the season on Friday, beating Patoka Lake Athletic Conference opponent Crawford County on the road 49-29.
The win came behind a strong performance from the Bluejackets on the ground, rushing for 302 yards as a team, bringing in four touchdowns.
Sophomore running back Gavin Robinson led Mitchell’s rushing attack with 160 yards and two scoring carries. He also caught two touchdown passes, finishing with 88 receiving yards, many of which were earned after the catch.
“We added a couple of wrinkles to our running game, a little bit to try to take advantage of the guys that we have playing right now,” said Bluejackets head coach Kevin Kling. “We started tailoring our offense to what we’ve got. So, I think we’ve got some pieces there and as we continue to do it, we’ll evolve our offense with it.”
Mitchell scored on their first possession of the game, as quarterback Kale England was able to connect with Ashton Luman for two first-down passes to advance the ball into Wolfpack territory, setting up Robinson for an eventual 16-yard rushing touchdown.
Crawford County fought back on their next possession, advancing the ball down to the Bluejackets’ 16-yard line before a fourth down interception from Luman gave Mitchell possession of the ball on their own 25-yard line.
Robinson got his second touchdown of the night on the very next play, weaving through the Wolfpack’s defense before creating enough separation to go the full 75-yard distance to the endzone as the first quarter came to a close.
Crawford County found their way onto the scoreboard early in the second, thanks to a 62-yard carry from Kayden Messer, who brought the ball all the way to the goal line, allowing quarterback Quentin Bell to score the short rushing TD on the next play.
Before the first half ended, Robinson scored two more times, both receiving touchdowns. His third touchdown of the game came with the Bluejackets facing a fourth-and-five situation deep in Wolfpack territory when England was able to find Robinson with enough space to carry the ball 10 yards into the endzone.
England was able to find Robinson again on the next possession, this time a 73-yard connection between the two that resulted in his fourth touchdown of the game.
Though Crawford County was able to have a big fourth quarter, scoring three touchdowns in the period, the Bluejackets had built enough of a lead after scoring two more times in the third quarter, one a 16-yard catch from Luman, the other a 55-yard carry from England, to comfortably win the game.
England finished with 79 yards on the ground to go along with 152 through the air, completing 70% of his throws. His top targets were Robinson, who had 88 yards on four catches, and Luman, who netted 45 yards on four catches.
For the Wolfpack, Messer had a standout performance, finishing with 166 rushing yards to lead all players, along with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Bell finished the game with 203 yards for Crawford County, completing 12/24 attempts with two touchdowns. His top target was junior receiver Aiden Bell, who racked up 107 yards on eight receptions.
Friday’s win was an important one for a Mitchell team that has faced an unusually challenging start to their season.
Though their year began with a loss to Edgewood, the offense had shown considerable improvement from the year prior in the first game.
The next week against Springs Valley, the optimism began getting ripped away, as the team was shutout in a 48-0 loss, in a game where they lost their starting quarterback, Ethan Turner, for the rest of the season to a knee injury.
The next week, another shutout loss, this time 35-0 at the hands of West Washington, which was followed by a loss to Eastern Greene, where the team again struggled offensively.
Picking up a win here, particularly one where the offense was able to shine as they did against the Wolfpack, scoring more in this game than they had all season combined to that point, can go a long way for building the team’s confidence as they head into the second half of their season, according to Kling.
“It feels good, it really does. It does nothing but help the confidence and we’ve just got to continue to build on it now. “The biggest thing is, we believe. We have to believe in each other and we have to believe as a team,” he said.
He said the team’s belief in themselves will continue to be key, as they look to build upon Friday’s win, carrying that momentum into next week’s game against Madison, who has also struggled this year with a similar 1-4 start.
“When you believe you can win, when you believe you can succeed, you’ll succeed. And, when you think you’re not going to, you’re not going to. That’s just the story of life,” Kling said.
“We live it every day. If we would go to work and think we’re gonna fail at work today or it’s gonna be a bad day. You know what it is, it’s gonna be a bad day. So, that’s what we have to get through, is we have to tell ourselves and each other that we can get this done.”