By Megan Hecox
Last nights football game between the Manfield Tigers and the Cedarville Pirates kept Tiger fans going through every human emotion possible. Joy, stress, concern, excitement, and frustration. But one emotion that every fan walked away from the game feeling, was PRIDE! The Tigers lost to the Pirates in overtime 26-20 but they sure didn’t go down without a fight.
The first half of the game was controlled by the Tigers Offense. Hunter Willsey opened the game with the first Tiger touchdown. Ethan Stovall and Colton Stipins followed suit by adding two more touchdowns to the scoreboard. Stovall completed 29 passes for a total of 262 yards. Zac Woolbright, Hunter Willsey, and Isaac Cothran must have been wearing their track shoes because they kept their feet moving and were able to obtain 42 of the 77 total rushing yards. Mansfield had a total of 262 passing yards with 170 of those yards coming from Layton Howard, Tyler Holmes, Jaicy Griffin, Clay James, Will Meadows, and Randy Claude. The Tigers lead 20-8 going into halftime.
As the Tigers prepared to continue their domination in the second half of the game, the football gods had other plans in mind. Some unfavorable calls and a Tiger injury, left Mansfield trying to keep their heads above water. With 27 seconds left in the 3rd quarter, Mansfield Tiger Jaicy Griffin caught the ball downfield on a punt return and during this run, he forcefully came into contact with a Cedarville Pirate. Jaicy was taken off of the field by ambulance and after a ground and pound fourth quarter and an overtime, the Tigers ended the game with a 26-20 loss.
Mansfield Head Coach had this to say about the night. “Our guys are hurting. They know they let one get away from them last night and really the last two games. They fought hard but lack of execution on both sides of the ball at key moments cost us the game. We have to be able to put it in the end zone when we have a chance to put the game away. We have to be able to match physicality every snap because one snap off could lead to a big play for the other team.”
It’s not an easy task to continue a game when you watch a teammate get hurt and have to be taken off of the field by ambulance. Coach Bentley tells us how the Tigers handle it. “I will always fight for our guys, I will always defend them. I try to make sure they know that so that they can focus on the game. I was very proud of our kids’ character, keeping their cool but still playing hard in a tough tough situation as the game progressed. I can’t say enough about the character of our kids. I’m also very proud of our coaches. They do a great job of pouring everything they have into every single player and it shows. They are good men and great leaders.”
“Having said all of that, we still control our own destiny. If we win against Paris, we are in and most likely will be the 3rd seed and get to host a first-round playoff game. We have to have a playoff mentality this week in practice because that is what it is. It’s by far the most important game of the year and the most important game of our players’ careers.” says Coach Bentley.