The Mansfield Jr High team took one to the chin Thursday night as they fell to the Waldron Bulldogs 36-6. The Tigers knew they would face some hard-hitting adversity in this matchup of rivals but unfortunately could not keep up with Waldron’s smash mouth run game. To make things worse, as the Bulldogs bit at their tail, the injury bug chewed at them during the game as well.
Mansfield started the game on offense and made everything seem like all was going to be fine. On the first drive of the game, the Tigers were facing fourth and long but were able to walk the line when Peyton Martin rolled out for a punt but decided to run it instead. Trick play and effort for a surprising first down? Yes please! Unfortunately, that is where the magic began to fade. Mansfield couldn’t recreate that magic for a second time giving the Bulldogs the ball. The Jr Tigers bowed up to the Waldron power run game and went blow for blow with the Bulldogs but couldn’t keep them from scoring first with 2:22 left in the first quarter. Holding strong, Mansfield kept the Bulldogs at bay as they closed out the quarter only down 8-0.
The Tigers woes began halfway through the second quarter when the Bulldogs scored again off of another big run. In the ensuing kickoff, the Tigers were caught off guard with an onside kick which Waldron pounced on. The Tiger’s defense was beat up, but there was no quit in any of them. Mansfield’s defense gave all the heart and effort in the world but couldn’t shut down Waldron from rolling another score putting the game at 20-0 at halftime. Halftime was when reality hit the Tigers as they lost starting quarterback, Peyton Martin, running back and backup quarterback, Jeremy Strozier, and lineman, Dakota Lanford, to injury. Going into the second half, the Tigers were down but unwilling to be out. With key players sidelined, it was up to new players in new positions to keep things going.
Tyler Turnipseed went from wide receiver and running back and stepped up to fill the shoes at quarterback. With starting running back Trey Powell and star wide receiver Austin Oldham still in Turnipseeds back pocket for help, the Tigers went back to work. The quick feet of Powell gained yards and momentum for the Tigers while Oldham kept the Bulldogs’ attention on him due to his big-play capability. Add in Turnipseed’s pure athletic ability at any position, and the Tigers offense was on the move. With 1:40 left in the game, Turnipseed made a smooth play-action pass to a double-covered Oldham who clawed his way to catch the ball for a 32-yard touchdown. Mansfield couldn’t muster up the extra point attempt leaving them with six points on the scoreboard. Although it took the goose egg off the scoreboard, Waldron ran the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown closing the gap again. Raine Hecox attempted to get momentum back in the Tiger’s favor when the Bulldogs kicked off allowing her to earn a 14-yard kick return. But soon after the buzzer sounded, ending the game with a final of Waldron 36 and Mansfield 6.
“They were much more physical than us and we got beat up pretty bad. Depending on Dr’s reports, we could be out as many as 4 starters next Thursday night in Elkins. We had some players really step up in the second half, but we still have to continue to work to get better in all phases of the game” Coach Tim Cothran said about the game.
Peyton Martin finished completing three passes for 19 yards before going out due to injury while Tyler Turnipseed completed two for 34 yards and a touchdown in the game. Turnipseed also led the team in rushing with 44 yards followed by Trey Powell who gained 32 yards off five carries. Austin Oldham led the team in receiving with two catches for 35 yards and a touchdown with Turnipseed snagging two passes for 20 yards.