WSHS Football Drops Season Opener at Pineville

By: Daniel Simmons

Last Friday evening, September 1, the Winnfield Tiger football team traveled to Pineville to face off against the Rebels of Pineville High School. The Tigers came close to a victory, but ultimately lost to the Rebels 20-14 in the first game of the regular season.

Winnfield kicked off to Pineville to open the game, and the Rebels returned the kickoff to about midfield. After converting a 4th and 1, the Rebels handed it off to their fullback up the middle, who ran 25 yards for a touchdown. The PAT went through the uprights, giving Pineville an early 7-0 lead. The Tigers recovered the ensuing onside kick to set the offense up with strong field position to start out, but went three and out. Ryan Davis then attempted his first punt of the season, which was a great punt that went over the returner’s head.

Both teams traded punts for the next few drives, and eventually Pineville established excellent field position after a good punt and a Tiger fumble. They reached the Tiger 5-yard line, where the quarterback fumbled the shotgun snap, and the running back picked it up and outran the Tiger defense around the edge for a touchdown, extending the lead to 13-0. The snap for the PAT was botched, so the score remained 13-0.

On the following drive, the Tigers made their first big offensive play of the season. Quarterback Damascus Lewis rolled to his right, spun out of a defender’s arms to avoid a sack, then threw the ball deep down the field to a wide open Jaterion Hobdy. The drive ended in a turnover, but on the next drive, Lewis threw to Ryan Davis in the front right corner of the end zone for a touchdown. The Tigers tried a two-point conversion but missed to make the score 13-6, and the score would stay there for the remainder of the first half.

The Tigers opened up with the ball in the second half and had an opportunity to tie the game or even take the lead. However, the Rebel defense made a big play that proved to be a game-changer. The Tigers handed it off for a run up the middle, but a defender took the ball directly out of the running back’s hands and took off the other way untouched for a score. This gave the Rebels an immediate 20-6 lead to start out the second half. 

The Tiger offense went three and out on the next drive, but after a very good punt and a fumble recovery, they were back in business with good field position. They were able to capitalize, as Damascus Lewis threw a touchdown pass to Breylan Starks on a beautiful play where Lewis rolled to his right, but then stopped, set his feet, and threw a rainbow of a ball across the field to Starks, who was running wide open towards the left pylon. Jake Jones caught the two-point conversion pass to make the score 20-14. The teams traded punts and turnovers for the next several drives. 

Then another game-changing play happened in the fourth quarter with about 4 minutes left. The Tiger defense continued their outstanding second half, forcing the Rebels to punt. The Tigers had two men back deep at about midfield to catch the punt, which would have been great field position. However, there was miscommunication between the two returners catching the punt, and they muffed the punt which Pineville recovered. The Tigers got the ball back with about two minutes left in much worse field position than they would have had without the mistake, and didn’t have quite enough time for a scoring drive, throwing a Hail Mary interception as time expired.

This Friday, the Tigers will travel to Columbia to face the Caldwell Spartans, who also sit at 0-1 on the season after losing their opener at home to West Ouachita.