Mitchell County defenders Quintin Sanders (57), Terry Burley (3) and Josh King (9) drag down Albany High running back Jonathan Jefferson (1) Friday night at Hugh Mills Stadium. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
ALBANY — Albany High football coach Felton Williams didn’t want to have to relive the nightmare from last season when he watched his team surrender 20 unanswered points in the second half and lose to Mitchell County.
Friday night at Hugh Mills Stadium, the bad dream that was last season’s game continued. But this time, there was no come-from-behind for the opposing team.
Mitchell County used a pair of Troy Chester touchdown passes in the first half and a safety to build a two-touchdown lead. Then the Eagles held off Albany in the second half and topped the Indians 24-8.
Chester connected with Terry Burley on the Eagles’ first possession of the game, then Bryant Johnson added a 2-point conversion run to make it 8-0 at the 10:07 mark of the first quarter before fans at Hugh Mills Stadium barely had time to sit down.
Then it was Mitchell County’s turn on defense. After Albany marched the ball inside the Eagles’ 5-yard line, Mitchell (1-0) stuffed Jonathan Jefferson on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line with 3:57 left in the first quarter.
Earlier in the week, Williams said he believed his offense could score points but the Indians defense would have to play strong. It was the defense that kept the game from getting out of hand in the first half.
The Indians recovered a fumble to stop another promising Mitchell County drive, then intercepted a pass before the first half ended.
After Mitchell’s goal-line stand, Albany recorded a safety on Mitchell’s ensuing possession, trimming the deficit to 6-2 at the 3:04 mark.
But Chester tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter, then the Eagles’ benefited when an errant snap sailed over Albany quarterback Trevian Jackson’s head and out of the endzone for a safety to make it 16-2 with 1:51 left in the first half.
But Albany gave itself a chance, marching downfield late in the third quarter and using 9-yard touchdown run from Jefferson to cut the deficit to 16-8 with 11:50 left in the game.
Mitchell didn’t secure the victory until the 7:24 mark. Vernon Johnson scored on a 44-yard punt return, followed by Josh King’s 2-point conversion run to make it 24-8.
It couldn’t have been a better start for the Eagles, who kept Albany’s passing game off-balanced and constantly harassed the running game for most of the contest. Friday’s game was the first of five straight against larger classification schools.