Jackets get by Pineville, 42-20
There was little doubt in the outcome of the game after the Middlesboro Yellow Jackets scored touchdowns on their first three possessions to open up a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. But from there a spunky effort from the Pineville Mountain Lions seemed to get under the Jackets’ skin. Middlesboro was flagged 16 times for 165 yards as they wound up settling for a 42-20 win that left a bad taste in coach Randy Frazier’s mouth.
“It was just a bad game to coach and for us to play. There were penalties everywhere. We just cannot afford to do that,” Frazier said. “We have a good football team, but when we play like that we’re not a good football team.
“We completely lost focus. I think we got caught up in chatting instead of playing. I was disappointed in our reaction to a lot of things.”
On the other hand, Pineville’s Bart Elam was pleased with his team in spite of the loss.
“I’m proud as heck of my team. Middlesboro is supposed to be one of the best 2A teams around and I think they really are,” he said. “We played toe-to-toe with them after that first quarter and the kids did a really good job of making our adjustments. I’m just really, really proud of our kids.”
Early on it was all Middlesboro. Facing a 4th down at the Pineville 41 on the game’s opening possession, Ryan Pittman took a direct snap on a fake punt and weaved his way through the Mountain Lion defense for a 41-yard touchdown. Tanner Hoskins added the extra point and it was 7-0 with 10:29 to play in the first quarter.
Pineville also tried a fake punt on their first possession, but Austin Poindexter threw Will Adams for a loss of nine and the Jackets took over at the PHS 31. Major Edwards ran for nine yards and Pittman got free again for a 22-yard TD run.
The Lions went three-and-out on their next drive and Middlesboro drove 75-yards on eight plays with Seth Barton finding the end zone on a 53-yard run to make it 21-0 with 2:39 left in the first.
Connor Ford returned the ensuing kick 24 yards out to the 38. He and Bradley Fuson combined to run for 28 yards on five carries as Pineville got down to the Middlesboro 34 by the end of the period. On the first play of the second quarter, Dalton Ledbetter outjumped Barton in the end zone and hauled in a touchdown pass from Tucker Woolum despite getting interfered with on the play. The Jackets blocked the extra point, so their lead was 21-6 with 11:48 to go in the half.
From there the penalty flags started flying. Middlesboro was called for two illegal blocks to shut down their next possession before it could get started. The Jackets were called for unsportsmanlike conduct and a personal foul to extend Pineville’s next drive, but the Lions committed a false start and a holding penalty of their own and had to punt.
After an exchange of possessions, another holding call against the Jackets had them facing a third-and-19 from their own 28 late in the half. Pittman got the call again and found room around the left side. He got a big block from Poindexter and ran through a tackle along the sideline on his way to a 72-yard touchdown that put Middlesboro up 28-6 at the half.
Pittman led the Jackets with 167 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries. Barton added 103 yards and two scores on six runs.
“(Ryan) Pittman and Seth (Barton), they run the ball hard,” said Fraizer. “We’ve got so many weapons on the outside and inside. We have an explosive offense. We can score.”
Though they were down, the Lions never quit. They got the ball to start the third quarter and on 3rd and ten from their own 43 they motioned into a formation with Ford lined up in the Wildcat. The threat of the run sucked in Middlesboro’s defense and Ledbetter came free on a little post pattern from tight end. Ford’s pass hit him in stride behind the linebackers and he went 57 yards for his second touchdown of the game. It was 28-12 at the 10:38 mark of the third quarter.
“Sometimes when you get in that Wildcat — we call it the Joker formation — you just start drawing things up in the dirt and it worked that time,” Elam said. “There was another time we tried it and it really didn’t work at all. Sometimes you can hit them when they’re not expecting it and that makes it fun.”
Middlesboro again fell victim to a holding penalty and Pineville got the ball back later in the quarter with a chance to get even closer. The Jackets were having none of that as they held the Lions to just one yard on three plays.
Jake Brock returned the following punt 33 yards all the way down to the PHS 34. Barton plowed through the right side of the line and outran the secondary for a 34-yard touchdown on the very next play. Middlesboro’s lead was back out to 35-12 with 7:20 to go in the third.
That was still the score late in the period when Jacket sophomore Daniel Webb recovered a fumble at the Pineville 37. A pass interference penalty wiped out a Caleb McCorkle interception and gave Middlesboro a first down at the 21. Another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed the Jackets back, but they were able to score again early in the fourth quarter when Edwards hit a streaking Donnie Foister in the end zone from 31 yards out to make it 42-12 with 11:12 to play.
Pineville ate up most of the quarter with a 15-play, 75-yard drive. Woolum connected with Adams three times for 23 yards on the drive and Fuson had a 17-yard run. The Lions were also aided by two more MHS penalties along the way and Fuson capped it with a 3-yard TD run. Woolum hit Adams for the conversion to make it 42-20 with 2:36 remaining.
That proved to be the final score, but the Lions got the ball back late and used all of their timeouts trying to put another score on the board. Woolum just wasn’t able to connect on the deep ball.
“I don’t know if coach Frazier is mad at me for taking those timeouts at the end of the game, but to be honest my kids fought so hard that I wanted to fight for them the whole dang game until the horn sounded. That’s why we tried to score on the very last play,” Elam said. “I want my kids to know that if we play a team like that this close that our goal of earning a home playoff game is in reach. This is a game that can really make our kids aware of how good they are.”
Middlesboro ran for 302 yards on 24 carries and Edwards complete 10 of 22 passes for 93 yards. Foister had two catches for 50 yards while Poindexter caught three passes for 36 yards.
Pineville ran for 107 yards on 36 carries with Ford leading the way with 16 runs for 71 yards. Fuson added 40 yards on 13 attempts. Woolum was 8-of-21 passing for 84 yards with Ford completing 1 of 2 passes for 57 yards. Ledbetter caught four passes for 107 yards while Adams caught four for 28 yards.
“Dalton is as steady as can be and he’s improved every year. Defensively he is as good as anybody and offensively he’s really come along. His hands have gotten better because he’s worked on it and he’s just a super kid,” Elam added. “Our kids are great kids and I’m really proud of them. I thought our offensive line played great tonight, Connor Ford played hard and even our young guys weren’t scared of Middlesboro. They left it on the field and that’s what I’m proud of.”
Middlesboro (2-0) will visit Log Mountain to take on Bell County next Friday.
“You better stop the run,” said Frazier about that game against the Bobcats.
Pineville (1-2) is at home to play McCreary Central on Friday.
M- Ryan Pittman 41 run (Tanner Hoskins kick)
M- Pittman 22 run (Hoskins kick)
M- Seth Barton 53 run (Hoskins kick)
P- Dalton Ledbetter 34 pass from Tucker Woolum (kick fail)
M- Pittman 72 run (Hoskins kick)
P- Ledbetter 57 pass from Connor Ford (run fail)
M- Barton 34 run (Hoskins kick)
M- Donnie Foister 31 pass from Major Edwards (Hoskins kick)
P- Bradley Fuson 3 run (Will Adams pass from Woolum)
RUSHING — PHS: Connor Ford 16-71, Bradley Fuson 13-40, Robbie Miller 1-2, Tucker Woolum 5-(-7), Will Adams 1-(-9); MHS: Ryan Pittman 11-167, Seth Barton 6-103, Major Edwards 5-28, Caleb Brock 1-2, Gabe Fuson 1-2.
PASSING — PHS: Woolum 8-21-0-84, Ford 1-2-0-57, Adams 0-1-0-0; MHS: Edwards 10-22-0-93.
RECEIVING — PHS: Dalton Ledbetter 4-107, Adams 4-28, Ford 1-6; MHS: Austin Poindexter 3-36, Jake Brock 3-9, Donnie Foister 2-50, Barton 1-4, Pittman 1-(-6).
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