Woody Cornwell’s interception-free season may have ended on Tuscola’s first offensive play Friday night, but the Mountaineers’ senior quarterback didn’t get rattled.
He completed his other six passes, scored on a short run and helped make sure his team remained perfect in the Western North Carolina Athletic Conference.
A stingy defense, bruising offensive line along with speedy running backs Houston McCracken and Bryce Myers also played key roles as Tuscola earned a 41-14 victory over North Henderson at C.E. Weatherby Stadium.
“North Henderson is a tremendous football team,” Tuscola coach Brandon Allen said. “They came in and did some things we weren’t expecting. They came out and hit us in the mouth. We had to come in and adjust on the fly. … Our defensive staff did a tremendous job.”
McCracken, who was also picked off on a third-quarter halfback pass, scored three rushing touchdowns for the Mountaineers (6-1, 3-0). And Myers, who took responsibility for Cornwell’s first pick, added a back-breaking 92-yard touchdown run less than 14 seconds before halftime.
“The interception was really my fault because I ran a terrible route, so he just had to get rid of it,” said Myers, who added a 50-yard scoring run with 19 seconds left in the game.
“But he reacted well, and we all have learned how to stick together over the course of the season.”
North Henderson’s Ashton Woodring hit Corey Foster on scoring strikes of seven and 54 yards. Both of those scores came immediately after Mountaineers’ turnovers. Zack Cannon and Eric Aguirre came up with the interceptions for the Knights (3-4, 2-1).
Tuscola’s Eric Messer had an interception off Woodring, who finished with 93 passing yards while completing 6 of 10.
Through the first 20 minutes, Friday’s game was every bit the battle you’d expect from two teams fighting to remain tied with Franklin atop the WNCAC standings.
Then Tuscola’s offensive line and Myers made it a breakaway.
The Mountaineers’ blocking front keyed a ball-control scoring drive that chewed six minutes off the clock one possession before Myers found a crease in North Henderson’s defense and turned to his right and upfield for his long scoring run.
“They moved the ball on us in the first half, but I felt like we were OK,” North Henderson coach J.D. Dinwiddie said. “And then that play right before half, we just had a couple guys out of position. (Myers) made a great play. … I think that kind of took the air out of us right before half.”
Next up for Tuscola is Haywood County rival Pisgah.