It was a highly anticipated rematch from earlier this year. The Shelby Golden Lions defeated the Burns Bulldogs 26-13 in October. Would the Bulldogs get payback or would Shelby just be too strong? That question would be answered early and often.
The Golden Lions set the tone with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Isaiah Bess to Jahari Mitchell (PAT good). That was just the beginning. The Golden Lions would go into a heavy package near the goal line on their next drive and Mitchell took it in from six-yards out from the Wildcat position to give Shelby a 14-0 advantage (PAT good). Mitchell would score again on another rushing touchdown on Shelby’s next drive, this time from five-yards out (PAT good).
Down 21-0, it was gut-check time for the Burns Bulldogs. Midway through the second quarter, Burns got on the board. Kujuan Pryor’s 39-yard touchdown run cut the Golden Lions’ lead to 14 (PAT good). But the Golden Lions would continue to make life hard for the Bulldogs. Mitchell would score another five-yard touchdown run via the heavy package (PAT good). The Bulldogs would get a drive going before halftime. They would make it to the Shelby two-yard line. But on fourth down, two procedure penalties would back them up and they would not be able to convert.
The Bulldogs got the ball to start the second half and would capitalize on the opportunity. Cam’Ron Sweezy’s five-yard touchdown run cut the Golden Lions’ lead to 28-14 (PAT good). But that would be as close as the Bulldogs would get. The Jahari Mitchell show would continue. He would score a three-yard rushing touchdown out of the heavy package and would score a 12-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter to put the game away for good (PAT good). Shelby would win 42-14.
Jahari Mitchell amassed 141 scrimmage yards (106 rushing, 35 receiving), the five rushing touchdowns and the receiving touchdown early in the game. Shelby quarterback Isaiah Bess passed for 145 yards in the victory. Kicker Caden Sheely was 6-for-6 on his extra point kicks. Kujuan Pryor led the Bulldog offense with 177 yards rushing and a touchdown. Cam’Ron Sweezy amassed 146 total yards (103 passing, 43 rushing) and a touchdown. He was intercepted once. Zach Benfield was 2-for-2 on his extra point kicks. Torrian Arrington had the only turnover for Shelby with the interception. Malaki Hamrick, Santanna Flack and Ethan Mitchell each had sacks for the Golden Lions.
“They made the plays and we didn’t make the plays. That pretty much sums it up.” said Burns head coach David Devine “We got back down there (after the Pryor touchdown) and didn’t punch it in. That hurt us in the first half. I thought if we scored right there and got the ball back at half-time, we could have made it a one score game. But it just wasn’t meant to be tonight. They got a really good football team. My hats off to them.”
Devine said of senior class “I’m proud of our seniors because they worked their tail off to get here. I love our senior group to death. They are a great group of kids. They put us in the position that we are in. We’re losing 15 or 16 seniors. We are going to be young next year so we got our work cut out for us.”
“I just got to give all glory to God. He’s blessed me. I’m so fortunate to be with such a great staff. They work so hard to get these guys ready and we have such a great group of seniors and leadership. The guys as a whole bought in.” said Shelby head coach Mike Wilbanks “They knew what the goals were and what the game plan was. They played tremendously. I’m so proud of them. Defense just played hard all night. We knew Pryor was electric. We knew we had to stop him. That was a big play on the goal line to stop him. If they score there, it may get a little dicey. That was a huge play by our defense.”
Wilbanks added “Part of the goal was that we did not want to turn the ball over and I don’t think we did. We wanted to run the ball some and were able to do that. Tonight it was (Jahari Mitchell’s) night to shine. Those guys in front of him who block did a great job. He was able to find some creases and make some big plays for us. I’m happy for him and proud of him.”
Shelby will play Salisbury at Wake Forest University for the 2AA state championship. Burns ends their season at 12-3.