Mitchell completed his first 14 passes Saturday night as East Tennessee State won its home opener, 48-10, over Shorter in a non-conference football game at Greene Stadium.
The red-shirt freshman from Knoxville finished 14 of 15 for 173 yards and two touchdowns.
“I loved it, enjoyed every second of it,” Mitchell said. “I’m just going out and doing what’s asked of me. I had a ton of fun. It’s a blast going out and playing with my brothers.”
Mitchell, who replaced the injured Chance Thrasher last week, almost got his name in the ETSU record book for consecutive completions. The school record is 15, set by Austin Herink against Limestone in 2017. Mitchell had a chance to tie the mark, but his long pass midway through the third quarter was intercepted.
The 48 points were the most ETSU has scored in a game since the school brought football back in 2015.
It was Shorter’s 40th consecutive loss, the third-longest losing streak in NCAA Division II history. The Hawks haven’t won since the middle of the 2015 season.
Jacob Saylors rushed for two of ETSU’s six touchdowns.
ETSU freshman kicker Tyler Keltner opened the scoring with the first field goal his career, a 40-yarder.
The Bucs then added three touchdowns — Saylors’ 12-yard run and Mitchell TD passes of 16 yards to tight end Nate Adkins and 5 yards to fullback Jawan Martin — before halftime.
Saylors then set up his second touchdown with a 61-yard scamper, the longest of his career. That led to a 2-yard scoring plunge from Saylors, who finished with 90 yards on 12 carries.
ETSU’s Austin Rowan added a safety in the third quarter before backup quarterback Cameron Lewis showed a burst of speed on a 28-yard touchdown run for a 41-3 advantage.
Later, Lewis completed the best pass of the night. On third and long in the fourth quarter, he rolled to the right hashmark and lofted a rainbow to the left sideline. West Greene product Juliun Lane-Price made an over-the-shoulder catch and was pulled down at the 1-yard line.
That set up the first touchdown pass of Lewis’ career, a 1-yarder to tight end Jordan Anderson for a 48-3 lead.
PLAYER SCORES AGAIN
Nasir Player, ETSU’s all-conference defensive end, scored on a two-point conversion pass from Mitchell after the Bucs’ third touchdown.
It came in the same end zone where Player had scored his only other points, on an interception return against VMI two years ago. Players’ points put the Bucs up 25-0.
The Bucs scored the first 25 points before a couple of fourth-down miscues led to Shorter’s first score.
First, the Bucs failed on a fourth-and-one conversion when the Hawks blew up the middle for a stop.
Then, with Shorter facing a fourth down of its own, the Bucs jumped offside, keeping a drive alive. That one ended with Nicholas Pope’s 36-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.
The Bucs were playing without Mississippi State transfer Jamal Couch. The wide receiver was banged in the head at Appalachian State and was held out Saturday as a precaution. He’s expected to be good to go next week when the Bucs play host to VMI on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.