James Mitchell is the most highly-touted prep football prospect in Southwest Virginia and he showed why on Friday night by delivering a big-time play.Quarterback Bailey Turner hooked up with Mitchell on a 95-yard scoring strike with 2:23 remaining to clinch Union’s 28-23 playoff victory over Dan River.
Union overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to clinch a spot in the VHSL 2A state quarterfinals.
A junior who has received scholarship offers from Virginia Tech, Virginia, Duke, Vanderbilt and James Madison, as well as recently earning an invitation to January’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl National Combine in Texas, Mitchell had never made a more clutch catch.
“First off, that ball Bailey threw was on the money,” Mitchell said. “Honestly, when I think about the catch I think about how hard we battled to get back in the game and that catch was kind of like the icing on the cake.”
Union has a 10-1 record over the last three seasons in games decided by seven points or less.
“Playing in close games has definitely helped us,” Mitchell said. “We’ve been in these type of situations so many times, we never lost faith in each other at any point in that game Friday. Coach [Travis] Turner does a good job of keeping us settled down.”
The following is a brief look at each of the state quarterfinal games involving local teams:
Parry McCluer (11-1) at George Wythe (11-1), Friday, 7 p.m.: George Wythe quarterback Deacon Beamer has thrown 21 touchdowns and only three interceptions in 129 pass attempts.
Richlands (11-1) at Graham (11-1), Friday, 7 p.m.: Richlands rallied from deficits of 21-0 and 24-7 in posting a 31-24 victory over the Graham G-Men on Sept. 8.
Union (11-1) at Appomattox (12-0), Saturday, 6 p.m.: Defending state champion Appomattox has won 27 straight games, while Union is 24-2 over the last two years.