Bo Levi Mitchell returns a winner
Ex-SMU QB finds redemption in rallying Eastern Washington to FCS title in Texas
FRISCO, Texas -- Bo Levi Mitchell found his redemption in leading Eastern Washington to victory over Delaware 20-19 in the FCS Championship at Pizza Hut Park and earning himself Most Outstanding Player honors.
Despite his rather forgettable exit from Dallas-Fort Worth -- he transferred from SMU after being replaced as the starting quarterback because of injury and a 3-4 start last season -- Mitchell had nothing but thanks for those who brought him back Friday night, including Mustangs coach June Jones.
Mitchell led his team on a 63-yard drive for a touchdown on a 9-yard pass, putting his team up by one point after the extra point and leaving just over two minutes for Delaware to respond.
The Eagles' defense held on fourth down on their own 39, forcing a turnover on downs and sealing the win for the team and the award for the quarterback.
"We came out as a team to do what we had to do," Mitchell said. "In the second half, the receivers just turned it up. They did everything they've been doing all year and that's making plays. My balls weren't perfect. They weren't. They made plays and did what they had to do, and we won the game because of them."
Mitchell finished the game 29-of 43 for 302 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. However, he struggled with his accuracy all night and especially in the first half, completing just six passes for 36 yards in the period.
The native of Katy, Texas, said that accuracy has never been his strong suit as a quarterback.
"It's huge to be able to rely on your receivers like that," Mitchell said. "I can put the ball in a five-foot radius and they're going to make that catch."
But he made the perfect pass when it counted with minutes remaining. Before the touchdown play, Mitchell changed Brandon Kaufman's route at the line, even though the receiver was being covered by two defenders. The 9-yard pass was high, over the hands of both defenders and into the reaching arms of Kaufman in the back of the end zone on the tail end of the post route.
"He did put the ball in the perfect spot," Kaufman said. "Hit me right in the 1. I don't even have two numbers and he hit it."
After proving to Texas that he can be a winner, taking a national championship and a Most Outstanding Player award while he was at it, the sky is the limit for Mitchell. However, he said he will stay in the Big Sky Conference and try to win another title for the Eagles on the school's red turf.
"With the guys we've got coming back, offense, defense, everything, it's going to be a lot of fun, and I plan on being back here next year," Mitchell said.
Travis L. Brown covers high school sports for ESPNDallas.com.