Last season the Mansfield Sr High team set out against Charleston with the quote of “To be The Man, you gotta beat The Man.” Many may have thought that the Tigers victory last season was pure luck or merely a fluke. The Tigers had everything against them going into the game. Charleston was the favorite to win in many polls. They were on Charleston’s home field. Charleston beat Greenland and Mansfield lost to Greenland. But on Friday, October 11th Mansfield put all questions at rest over who “The Man” really is by defeating Charleston 28-24 in an epic battle all the way until the end.
Mansfield started off going back and forth with Charleston in the first quarter in a scoreless defensive war. The Tigers created a few turnovers and stuffed every attempt Charleston made. Charleston’s defense, in turn, did the same to the Tigers ending the first quarter in a stalemate 0-0. Mansfields second-quarter performance could be summed up in one word….Ouch. The Charleston offense got their claws churning with a ground game that slowly wore the Tigers down as Charleston racked up 21 points in the second quarter. The Tigers offense did find a kink in the Charleston defense when Ethan Stovall squeezed his way into the endzone with a quarterback keeper. But Charleston shut down every other aspect of Mansfield’s high octane offense in the first half as the Tigers went into halftime down 21-7. The critics of Mansfield were right, right? WRONG.
No one really knows what Head Coach Tim Cothran, Keith Stovall, Layton Robinson, and Mark Tolton said during halftime, but whatever it was had the Tigers coming out of the locker room seeing nothing but RED. Charleston received the second-half kickoff and the Tiger kickoff squad set the tone for the rest of the game by pummeling Charleston’s returner. The Tigers defense who was shredded in the first half of the game had had enough as Clay James, Jaicy Griffin, and Blayne Bryant viciously laid out every player in black who dared to catch a pass. Bri Sanderson, Zach Lowe, Jacob Brown, and Isaac Cothran brought a freight train of pain as they dominated the Charleston offensive line to create chaos for Charlestons quarterback and running backs. The Tigers defense was officially in it to win it as all in Red and White slashed through Charleston.
The defense was great, but the Tigers needed their offense to put points on the board. That need was met and met with style. Isaac Cothran scored the second Tiger touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter and Layton Howard earned his first touchdown of the game with a 75-yard kick-off return.
Everyone knows the recipe for an epic game is an epic closing. Charleston attempted to eat up the clock in the 4th quarter to keep their victory hopes alive burning up 3 minutes driving the ball downfield all the way inside their own 10-yard line. The Mansfield defense attempted to keep Charleston at bay, but Charleston was able to get a first down at their 3-yard line. All seemed to be lost for the Tigers as time was closing out. But wait, did Charleston just get a penalty? Why yes, yes they did and that penalty made it harder to simply run the ball in for a go-ahead touchdown. Wanting to put the game away, Charleston took the next snap and darted a pass into the end zone directly to……Layton Howard! Howard picked off Charleston and he…could…go…all…the…way…102 yards back for a pick 6 putting the Tigers in the lead with only 38 seconds left in the game.
The environment was electrifying as the Tigers were now in the driver’s seat and Charleston is still wondering what happened. The shoe was now on the other foot as it was Charleston who seemed to have everything against them. With little time left in the game and a hyped up Tiger team in their face, the Mansfield Tigers took down the mighty Charleston Tigers 28-24. The Mansfield Tigers will stay home and host the Booneville Bearcats on October 18th at 7 p.m.