Pictured is Trey Powell
It’s been an up and down season thus far for the Mansfield Jr High Tigers. They’ve pulled out close wins and lost close losses. One thing is for sure though. The Jr Tigers know how to play an edge of the seat game. That was the case again on Thursday, October 22nd when the Tigers snapped Lavaca with a close final score of 20-18.
The Golden Arrows struck first with a quick touchdown on Mansfield jumping to an early lead. That lead was short-lived though as Peyton Martin used a quarterback option to take the Tigers 47 yards for a score of their own tying the game up. After quick offensive starts to the match from both programs, the game slowed down a little. Mansfield and Lavaca played what looked like a volleyball match as both teams defenses stepped up. Allowing only minimal yards, the Tigers defense shut down Lavaca’s speedy run game. Red and White jerseys were glued to the ball in every direction imaginable. With defensive linemen Turner Wright, Trey Vaughan, Sammy Sellers, Andrew Pettigrew, 7th grader James Bausley, and Langford proving to be a dominant force against Lavaca, the Golden arrows had no choice but to bounce outside.
The Golden Arrows plan to use their speed on the outside perimeters to stretch out the Tigers was a bad move as Dakota Langford turned those plans inside out. “Our line’s biggest strength is our size and quickness,” explained Langford. “However, we need to continue to work on minor details. Thursday we played Lavaca and it was really easy to read their plays. Tyler Turnipseed and I would call out their plays as soon as they got lined up.” Langford would turn the ball runners inside and Jeremy Strozier and Tyler Turnipseed would clean them out. As halftime neared, Lavaca’s offense was held again by the Tigers and was forced to punt again. Trey Powell caught the punt and tried to stop the clock with 0:02 seconds but the clock ran out and the Tigers went into halftime tied with Lavaca 6-6.
After the half, Lavaca used their same run outside offense but with a twist. Just as Mansfield began to adjust to that game plan, the Golden Arrows used a bump and go route to deliver a pass downfield for a score giving them the lead yet again. Lavaca again forced a 4th down on the Tigers as the Tigers prepared to punt. Turnipseed caught the snap rolled out to pun……pu…….RUN! Turnipseed faked the punt and gave the Tigers life as he scooted 13 yards for a first down. Unfortunately, Lavaca stopped Mansfield’s offense and took over at midfield. Martin was then able to get the passing game off the ground as he struck Toby Towe with a perfect pass for a Tiger touchdown. The game was tied at that point but not for long as Martin found his favorite target in Turnipseed who reigned in the catch for the two-point conversion. The score and extra point gave Mansfield a narrow 14-12 lead going into the 4th quarter.
Mansfield’s defense would start the 4th quarter with a bang as Martin picked off a Lavaca pass on the very first play giving the Tigers the ball right back. This game was theirs for the taking and the Mansfield coaching staff chose to go hunting with slugs instead of arrows. Mansfield loaded up their “SEVENS” in the backfield alongside trigger man Strozier as QB. This unstoppable triple threat pounded the Golden Arrows down play after play until Walters broke free going 12 yards for a Tiger touchdown. The extra point was unsuccessful leaving the game at 20-12 Mansfield. The eight-point margin was just enough for Lavaca to send the game into overtime should they score and they aimed right for that target. Lavaca scored with only 1:47 left in the 4th quarter setting up the overtime perfectly. All they had to do was punch in a two-point conversion. Each football team has 11 players on the field at one time and all 11 Tigers pounced on the Golden Arrows in a team effort forcing a fumble to stop Lavaca from tying things up. The fumble was recovered by none other than Dakota Langford and the game would come to an end with a 20-18 final Mansfield.
The Mansfield Jr High Tigers will be back in action on Thursday, October, 29 when they host the Cedarville Pirates. “As of right now, we need to continue to practice hard and make minor adjustments to defeat Cedarville this week,” Langford continued. “It is a very winnable game and we aren’t intimidated at all!”