In what some may have predicted to be a blowout, Pineville proved they could hang with Knox Central by nearly pulling the upset. After 40 minutes of battle, the Mountain Lions lost 14-13 to the 4A school.
“We know who we played right there. His team (Scott Russell) is always a physical, if not the most physical, team in the area,” said Pineville head coach Bart Elam. “We went toe to toe with them tonight. Our upfront guys didn’t back down from that challenge, and we were excited to see that.”
Pineville had a strong showing offensively against the Panthers. Tucker Woolum completed seven of his 14 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 49 yards on the ground.
Jaylen Bird led the way at the receiving corps with 94 yards on three receptions and a touchdown. Will Adams followed suit with 39 yards and a touchdown on three catches.
“We added some different wrinkles in our offense, and we hadn’t got to really try it out against a good football team,” said Elam. “We got to do that tonight. They didn’t stop us. We stopped ourselves.”
Knox Central was able to contained much of the rushing game. Woolum led the team in rushing, while Lawrence Simpson rushed for 34 yards on four carries.
Pineville started the game off strong. After a roughing the passer penalty moved the Mountain Lions to the 41-yard-line, Woolum connected with Bird on a 59 yard touchdown pass. A missed field goal gave Pineville a 6-0 lead.
Penalities plagued Knox Central on their first possession of the scrimmage. The Panthers were able to drive into Pineville territory behind a big run from Donavan Arthur. He broke free on a 19-yard run to put Knox Central on the 49-yard-line.
Matthew Smith crossed into Mountain Lion territory on a 6-yard run. The Panthers moved the ball down to the 12-yard-line. A holding penalty caused a 12-yard touchdown by Jamal Carton to be called back.
Four plays later, Jacob Tate missed a field goal.
Big plays assisted the Mountain Lions on their second possession. Following two runs for minimal gains, Woolum connected with Bird on a 27-yard pass to move Pineville to the Panther 41.
Fuson powered his way to the 38. Casey Patterson intercepted a Woolum pass to give Knox Central possession.
A big run from Jaxon Stewart put the Panther in scoring position. A 27-yard run by Carton moved the ball to the Pineville 2. Smith charged forward for the touchdown with 6:52 remaining in the half. Tate converted the PAT to give Knox Central a 7-6 lead.
The Pineville offense was able to move the ball effectively on the next drive. Woolum got the drive going with an 11-yard run on the third play. Adam crossed into Knox Central territory on a jet sweep.
A series of pass completed to Adams moved the Mountain Lions down to the Panther 3. Woolum was stopped on a quarterback sneak. Three straight incomplete passes caused Pineville to turn the ball over on downs.
Knox Central’s next possession was cut short with an interception by Kevin Sexton. The turnover would prove to benefit the Mountain Lions. On the second-play of the drive, Woolum completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Adams. A Bird PAT gave Pineville a 13-7 lead going into halftime.
On the third play of the second half, Stewart completed an 82-yard pass to Robinson for a touchdown. The PAT gave the Panthers a 14-13 lead. The touchdown was the last points scored by either team.
“I think we’re playing with confidence,” said Elam. “I think we can get a lot better, but I’m happy with where we’re at.”
Pineville opens up the season on Friday at Hazard.
“We have a lot of respect for them,” said Elam.
In years past, the coach said he believes the team went into the game losing before it started. He said he hopes the game against Knox Central will change that mindset.
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN.