MUSTANGS 17 COWBOYS 14 (OT)
TRINITY – Mitchell let victory slip away in regulation Friday night, but Alex Ageladelis made sure it didn’t happen again in overtime.
The junior nailed a 23-yard field goal in the first extra period to seal Mitchell’s 17-14 Class 7A District 9 victory over Gaither, setting off a jubilant celebration on the home sideline.
“It was freaking amazing,” Ageladelis said from the field afterward. “Once I saw it go through the posts I couldn’t stop. The excitement was unexplainable.”
The victory improved Mitchell to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in league play, putting them atop the District 7A-9 standings. It also gave the Mustangs a signature win, beating a high-end Gaither program from Hillsborough County that was considered the favorite entering the night.
“Pasco schools aren’t supposed to win that game,” Mitchell coach Andy Schmitz said. “We’ve been told that for a long time and we just keep doing it.
“These are the games that our kids love to play in. These are the games that we feel like define our program and our kids just played their hearts out.”
There was nothing “underdog” about Mitchell in the first half Friday. After the defense forced a three-and-out on the game’s opening possession, the Mustangs needed just two plays to light the scoreboard. Junior running back Nick Wolfgang found daylight along the Mitchell sideline and raced to a 60-yard touchdown.
The lead increased to 14-0 in the second quarter when the Mustangs took full advantage of defensive lineman Adrian Divcic’s interception of Gaither quarterback Brooks Bentley. The pick gave Mitchell possession at the Cowboys 36 and six plays later Mustangs quarterback Chris Ferrini ran for a 15-yard touchdown on fourth-and-2.
Schmitz cited Mitchell’s physical play in the trenches as the key to Friday night’s success.
“I think we played really well up front on both sides of the ball,” he said. “I thought this was by far our offensive line’s best game. They were basically blocking a college defensive line.”
Gaither did itself no favors throughout the first 24 minutes, turning the ball over three times and committing 11 penalties for 110 yards. The Cowboys were on the verge of responding early in the second quarter when Bentley (16 of 26 passing for 207 yards) connected with Mario Eugenio for a 39-yard pickup inside the Mitchell red zone, but the senior receiver lost his grip on the ball during the tackle to end the threat.
The Cowboys (3-3, 1-1) regrouped at halftime and got back in the game midway through the third period. Junior Eugene Wilson III sparked Gaither’s possession of the second half with a 40-plus yard punt return to midfield and four strong runs by senior Kobe McCloud set up Bentley’s 13-yard touchdown pass to 6-foot-4, 325-pound Tawfiq Thomas, a three-star prospect as a defensive lineman.
Gaither’s 2-point conversion attempt failed, keeping Mitchell’s lead at 14-6.
Mitchell nearly made the advantage hold the rest of the night, but Gaither wasn’t giving up. The Cowboys converted two fourth downs during a 10-play, 67-yard drive, the second of which resulted in a 34-yard scoring connection from Bentley to Wilson III. The junior receiver led all pass catchers with seven grabs for 96 yards, none more impressive than high-pointing Bentley’s heave into the end zone.
Gaither still needed the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 14-14 and they got it when Bentley handed off to McCloud, who then floated a jump pass into the arms of Thomas.
Mitchell won the overtime coin toss and deferred. Two McCloud runs gave the Cowboys third-and-goal from the 3, but one final Gaither miscue sealed the visitor’s fate. A shotgun snap sailed between Bentley and McCloud and the latter fell on the ball 16 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Mitchell blocked Gaither’s 37-yard field goal attempt to set up Ageladelis’s heroics.
“He made a big field goal last week in the fourth quarter against East Lake, so I knew he could make it,” Schmitz said of his kicker.
Mitchell will look to push its winning streak to four next week at home against Hudson.
Gaither has now lost two straight and stays on the road next week to face Steinbrenner. The Cowboys have played one of the Tampa Bay area’s most difficult schedules through six weeks. Prior to the Mitchell setback, Gaither’s other two defeats came against Armwood (22-19) and Tampa Bay Tech (28-14).
G – 0 – 0 – 6 – 8 – 0 --- 14
M - 7 – 7 – 0 – 0 – 3 --- 17
M – Wolfgang 60-yard run. Kick (Ageladelis) – 1st Q (9:39)
M – Ferrini 15-yard run. Kick (Ageladelis) – 2nd Q (2:13)
G – Thomas 11-yard pass from Bentley. 2 pt. Failed – 3rd Q (5:28)
G – Wilson III 34-yard pass from Bentley. 2 pt. Pass – 4th Q (1:50)
M – Ageladelis 23-yard FG. – OT
TEAM STATS: (Unofficial)
G – Bentley (6-49), McCloud (6-29), Wilson III (1-18).
M – Pierce (7-47), Covington Jr. (5-22), Sipp Jr. (3-20).
G – Bentley (16-26 for 207, 2 TD, INT).
M – Ferrini (2-5 for 13), Rice (3-3 for 22).
G – Wilson III (7-96, TD), Pittman (3-32), Thomas (1-13, TD).
M – Ferrini (3-22), Mirabile (1-13).