Smoky Mountain High School Mustang football fans saw the hand of fate sprinkle the happy stars on their side of the gridiron on Friday night in Robbinsville with a 27 to 26 point win. After having a year to mull over a controversial 22 to 21 point loss to the Black Knights in Sylva, the Mustangs were out to get a win and get consolation from a most likely win taken away by what many feel was a blown call by the officiating crew. Even though the Mustangs saw three touchdowns called back Friday night in Robbinsville the one that mattered the most was not called back. With just over two minutes to play in the game the Mustangs found themselves again trailing the Black Knights 26 to 21 but getting the ball on the kick-off. With time running out and the Mustangs needing to go 65 yards to score 6 and get a win. Cole Hooper found Conner Moore in a play action pass situation. After getting a key block off the left side tight end Moore quickly outran the defenders and reached the end zone untouched. the try for the two point conversion to make it a three point game failed so the Mustangs fell back on defense. The Black Knights drive stalled at mid-field where the Mustangs had time to run one play from the victory formation. Coach Brookshire stated after the game the Mustangs have practiced that particular play many times and was elated to see that player combination get the winning touchdown. The work sheet turned in by Conner Moore on Friday night not only showed a touchdown but also numerous defensive stops and other offensive assistance. For the Mustangs the play maker was Matthew Ridley who at times was the smallest player on the field but also the one with the biggest heart. Ridley kept the defense off balance all night with precision moves leading to the defense to record numerous misses and deflections. Ridley finished the night with 218 yards on 19 carries. What the official statistic does not record is between 50 and 80 additional yards erased by called infractions. On three occasions the Mustangs were in the Black Knights end zone only to find themselves thirty or forty yards away because of a penalty call to erase the score and move the Mustangs backwards. Cole Hooper was 10 of 27 on the night for 172 yards. Conner Moore and Austin Bumgarner were Hooper’s primary targets. Defensively the Mustangs were not able to shut down Colby Hemphill who carried the ball 25 times for the Black Knights for 150 yards. As the game wore on the Mustang defenders make it more difficult for Hemphill to get substantial yardage per carry. However the Black Knights focus on Matthew Ridley created opportunities for the other Mustangs runners including Conner Moore who scored what would be the winning touchdown.
The Mustangs will have a week to prepare for another tough opponent from the Smoky Mountain Conference, the Swain High School Maroon Devils who were dismantled by Hapeville Charter on Friday by a score of 35 to 7. In the North Carolina preseason 1-A poll Robbinsville was ranked fifth while Swain County is selected for an eleven spot. the Mustangs took the win in 2015 in Bryson City. The game will be the first regular season football game played on the new artificial turf at Smoky Mountain High School.