By: Daniel Simmons
Photos Courtesy Justin Coody Photography
After a win over Cedar Creek in the home opener, the Winnfield Tiger football team returned to Stokes-Walker Stadium for a matchup with the Jena Giants in their second home game of the season and fourth game overall. The Tigers made it an interesting game, but the Giants would ultimately prevail 32-20.
The Tigers won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half, giving Jena the ball to start the latest chapter in a long-standing rivalry. Jena found early success on their first offensive possession, with their big offensive line and talented running backs getting the ground game firing on all cylinders right away. The Giants converted two fourth downs on their opening drive, including a 4th and goal from the 2-yard line that capped off the drive with a touchdown. The two-point conversion was good, making the early score 8-0 Jena. Winnfield went 3 and out on their first offensive possession, punting the ball right back to the Giants. The Tiger defense stepped up on their second time out, including a sack by defensive end Jeremy Mamon in his first game back on the field after knee surgery in the offseason.
However, the offense could not capitalize on the defense’s success. The Tigers punted it back to Jena, and the Giants took over at their own 10. They drove 90 yards for another touchdown and 2-point conversion, with the drive once again almost entirely consisting of run plays. This gave Jena a 16-0 lead that they would take into halftime. It was a mostly uneventful first half for the Tigers and Tiger fans, but the third quarter proved to be anything but uneventful.
The Tigers received the second half kickoff and made a strong return, and got an extra 15 yards added to the end of the return when the Giants were penalized for a facemask. On the first play from scrimmage, Jaylon Jackson took a handoff up the middle and rumbled 33 yards to the end zone for a touchdown. The 2-point conversion was no good, but Jena’s lead was cut to 16-6. On the Giants’ next possession, they drove to midfield but then fumbled, and the Tigers recovered. However, they did not convert the fumble recovery into points. They punted it away, then the defense forced Jena to punt. The Giants’ punter rolled to his right for about 3 seconds, then booted the ball downfield with a rugby-style punt. The punt landed and rolled downfield, and appeared to be slowing down with several Giant defenders closing in on the ball. At this moment, the Tigers’ Jaylon Jackson made the risky and aggressive decision to pick up the ball and run. Jackson’s gamble paid off, as he returned the punt all the way down to the 1-yard line, where he was pushed out of bounds.
Jeremy Mamon came in at fullback on the next play, taking the handoff and running it in for a 1-yard touchdown. The Tigers lined up for a 2-point conversion afterwards, but were penalized for a false start, pushing their 2-point try from the 2-yard line to the 7-yard line. Jaylon Jackson would not let that stop him, running it in from 7 yards out for 2 to bring the score to 16-14. So after a slow struggle of a first half, the third quarter was nothing short of electric for Winnfield.
Unfortunately, the fun would stop for the Tigers shortly after. The next three possessions consisted of two long Jena touchdown drives and a Winnfield interception, making the score 32-14. Jena was 4-for-4 on two-point conversions for the game, giving them a 3-score lead at that point, despite having only two more touchdowns than the Tigers. The Tigers managed to score one more touchdown on the night on a pass from Damascus Lewis to Ryan Davis, arriving at the score of 32-20 which would be the final score.
This Friday, September 29, The Tigers will host the Bunkie Panthers at Stokes-Walker Stadium for their third of four consecutive home games. Bunkie is seemingly always a challenging opponent for the Tigers, and they look to be challenging again this season. They are currently 4-0 on the season, most recently defeating Avoyelles by a score of 48-0.