Broncos tough second half avoids blowout

By Mike Zima Correspondent
Posted 9/22/21

MIDDLEBURG - A huge second half by Middleburg’s Mike Mitchell could not overcome an even bigger game by St. Augustine’s Devonte Lyons as the host Broncos fell 54-37 to the Yellow Jackets in the …

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Broncos tough second half avoids blowout

Posted

MIDDLEBURG - A huge second half by Middleburg’s Mike Mitchell could not overcome an even bigger game by St. Augustine’s Devonte Lyons as the host Broncos fell 54-37 to the Yellow Jackets in the District 4-6A opener for both teams on September 17.

The loss is the first of the year for Middleburg after three victories, and the first of Ryan Wolfe’s career as a head coach.

Mitchell ran for 223 yards in the final two quarters as Middleburg turned what appeared to be a blowout into an entertaining game. The junior running back scored on three consecutive Broncos possessions in the third quarter to cut a 41-7 Yellow Jackets lead to 41-29.

“He is the total package,” Wolfe said of Mitchell, who transferred from Oakleaf to Middleburg over the summer. “He is big and physical and has elite speed, so he can run around you or through you.”

Mitchell finished with 254 yards on 22 carries.

The 12 point deficit was as close as the home team would get in the second half, as St. Augustine restored order with a 68 yard drive capped by a three yard touchdown run by Tyshawn Campbell.

Mitchell scored once more in the fourth quarter on a fifteen yard run, but his efforts were matched, if not exceeded, by Lyons. A sophomore, Lyons carved up the Broncos for 265 yards on 20 carries, most of them into the center of the line. He scored three touchdowns in the first half, including a 62 yard burst, and then scored two more in the second half. A four yard run on which he flipped over a tackler into the end zone gave the Yellow Jackets a commanding 54-29 advantage with 7:21 remaining.

“He was making us miss in a phone booth,” Wolfe said of Lyons. “He is very good in space.”

St. Augustine, a Class 6A state semifinalist last season, was a step up in competition for Middleburg, which had trouble adjusting to the Yellow Jackets’ team speed. No one was faster than Lyons or St. Augustine quarterback Trevon Dirden, who rushed for 162 yards and a touchdown on just nine carries. The Yellow Jackets never punted as the Broncos surrendered 472 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. The Middleburg defense did force four turnovers, however, and three of which were converted into points.

Safety Jace Campbell made a sliding interception at the St. Augustine 31 yard line that led to Middleburg’s first score, a one yard dive by Austin Dillon that brought the Broncos to within 14-7 with 2:25 remaining in the first quarter.

Linebacker Austin Cruce pounced on loose ball that Yellow Jackets back-up signal caller Locklan Hewlett dropped at the Middleburg 35 yard line while fading back to pass midway through the third quarter. Mitchell scored on a 34 yard run five plays later.

Later in the third quarter, outside linebacker Jayden Levy hit Dirden on a quarterback draw, forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Broncos’ Trenton Robinson at the Middleburg 44 yard line. It took only three plays for Mitchell to cover the short field, bursting through a hole up the middle and racing 50 yards untouched for the touchdown that brought Middleburg within 41-29.

Trailing 34-7 at halftime, Middleburg outscored the Yellow Jackets 30-20 in the second half. According to Wolfe, there was no change in strategy.

“It was a big game, and in the first half we were overwhelmed,” he said. “We just needed to settle down and execute what we had been taught.”

Outside of Mitchell, Middleburg could not generate offense. Quarterback Luke Padgett completed just two of 11 passes for 31 yards, with one interception. Wolfe did not blame the lack of a passing game solely on his quarterback, however,

“The plays are there, but it is a drop here, a missed throw there, a missed route or a lack of protection,” said Wolfe. “It is Year One and we are still hot and cold when it comes to the passing game.”

St. Augustine improves to 2-1 and stamped itself as the favorite to win District 4-6A. Wolfe, though was optimistic for the rest of the Broncos’ campaign.

“This outcome does not determine the outcome of our season,” he said. “Everything we want to do—a winning season, the playoffs— is still out there for us.”

Defensive end Tyrone Floyd had an interception for the Broncos, who have a week off before returning to District 4-6A action on October 1 against Matanzas.

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