The North Sand Mountain football team went toe-to toe with a region champion in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs.

But in the end, turnovers and big plays prevented the Bison from advancing.

Class 2A Region 5 No. 1 seed Midfield rallied to take the lead just before halftime and used a couple of second-half scores to down NSM 34-20 Friday night at Midfield High School.

The Bison finished 4-7 after making their Jackson County leading seventh straight playoff appearance.

“We had our chances, we did what we wanted to do (offensively),” said NSM head coach Keith Kirby. “But turnovers got us. We had four. We ran the ball, line blocked good. But we didn’t score (on a drive deep into Midfield) once and then we had four turnovers. That got us.”

NSM took a 6-0 lead on senior Derek Bearden’s 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and then got a defensive stop and started another drive when it fumbled and Midfield returned it 44 yards to tie the game at 6-all. 

After the Patriots took a 12-6 lead early in the second quarter, NSM went back in front on senior Mason Smith’s 25-yard touchdown run and his two-point conversion.

But Midfield (9-2), which hosts Cleveland in the second round, got a touchdown pass from quarterback Anthony Johnson to give the Patriots a 20-14 halftime lead, and Johnson tossed his third touchdown pass to extend their lead to 26-14 in the third quarter. 

“(Johnson) was tough,” Kirby said. “He was something else.”

After another Midfield score, NSM capped the scoring with Smith’s 4-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.

NSM ran for 304 yards, with Hank Farmer rushing for 112 yards on 21 carries while Smith totaled 79 yards on 17 carries, Bearden had 42 yards on seven carries and Josue Luna had 36 yards on six carries. Kirby said the Bison would go back “to work” immediately looking ahead to next season. 

He also thanked the seniors for their efforts this season and throughout their careers.

“Our seniors, hats off to those guys,” Kirby said. “We didn’t have the year they wanted, but they kept fighting and scratched their way into the playoffs. A lot of those guys have been part of what we’ve done these last four years. We’re going to miss them.”

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