BARBOURVILLE — As a Class A team going up against a 4A team, the Pineville Mountain Lions had their work cut out for them in Friday’s SEKC Gridorama at Knox Central. After getting a bit overwhelmed in the first two series, the Lions held their own the rest of the way in getting outscored by just a 20-13 margin.
“We knew that up front we were going to be a little bit smaller, and they’re really good up front. When they ran it right at us we had some trouble, but as far as on the edge and athlete to athlete we held our own,” Pineville coach Bart Elam said. “You worry about playing these huge schools in the Grid because of the depth issues. They can rotate two or three guys in with their ones and it kind of wears on you. But I thought we got stronger as the first half went on.”
The Panthers got the ball first and quickly went 70 yards on just three plays. Andrew Johnson started it with a 16 yard run, quarterback Jaxon Stewart ran for 18 and then hooked up with Matthew Barger for a 36-yard touchdown pass. Johnson added the conversion run to make it 8-0.
After Pineville went three and out, Knox drove down and scored again. Barger had a 40-yard catch and Stewart finished off the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. Pineville sophomore Luke Kelly pressured Stwart into an incompletion on the two-point try and it was 14-0.
The teams traded possessions and the Lions took over at the Panther 46. Sophomore quarterback Tucker Woolum was hit out of bounds after scrambling for a short gain and Pineville had a first down at the 30. Freshman Jordan Wombles picked up three yards on an option, but Woolum lost his helmet on the play and had to set out on fourth down. Sophomore Will Adams picked up eight yards and first down on keeper out of the Wildcat and later hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Woolum on fourth down to get the Lions on the board. It was 14-6 with 2:43 left in the first half.
Knox got into scoring position late in the half, but Stewart was stopped inside the five on a keeper as the half ended.
The Panthers added a touchdown on their first possession of the second half. But Pineville answered with an 18-play drive that took up just about the rest of the scrimmage.
Woolum stayed in at quarterback but the Lions mixed in several less experienced and younger players on that drive. Jon Sproles had an 18-yard catch for a first down and Keith Sexton added a 14-yard run. Joseph Simpson picked up eight yards and a first down on a catch and Lawrence Simpson had a 37-yard touchdown run called back due to a holding penalty.
Woolum found Josh Lawson for a 31-yard gain after another penalty and Lawson held on to Woolum’s 24-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds to go. Lawson went up and got ball but took a shot in the ribs as he came down in the end zone. That set the final score at 20-13.
“Everybody knows Knox Central has a really good football team and getting beat 20-13 with all but one series basically ones against ones, we can take a lot of momentum from that,” Elam said. “I don’t know that we’ll face another team, maybe besides Williamsburg, that compares to them up front. It’s a good game to show these kids that they can play with anybody when they buckle up and play with passion and confidence.”
Pineville has two weeks to get ready for the regular season opener at South Floyd on Aug. 29.