Football homecoming is one of those exciting times for young high schoolers. The ladies dressing up, students making floats for the parades, and who can forget the awe-inspiring homecoming ceremony itself. With so much pizazz and pageantry going on, some people often forget that there’s a football game attached too. The SR High Tigers had some pizazz of their own rolling into their game with the Greenland Pirates with a 4-0 unblemished golden record. Unfortunately for Mansfield, all that glitters isn’t gold as the Tigers fell into Greenland’s homecoming trap while the Pirates stole the show beating Mansfield 19-13.
The Tigers started off the game with their hot offense taking the field first. Mansfield ran behind running backs Tyler Woolbright and Fisher Willsey to push the Pirates back for two first downs in nine plays. Although their first drive had some promise, the Tigers couldn’t sustain the early attack as they turned the ball over on fourth down. The Tigers defense now had their shot at the Pirates and did not disappoint. Greenland ran just three plays before Mansfield forced the Pirates to punt the ball. The Tigers offense roared back on the field with a steady dose of Woolbright and Willsey runs, but this time they mixed in some passing too with quarterback Cole Kindle finding receivers Daniel Burton and Peyton Martin for big gains. With Greenland’s defense backpedaling on unstable waves, Fisher Willsey took the handoff and sailed 26 yards into the end zone for a Tiger touchdown. Mansfield missed the extra point but still held the early 6-0 lead in the first quarter.
Greenland wasn’t deterred though. The Pirates took Mansfield’s score on the chin and took the Tigers defense by the tail as they drove downfield in just eight plays to score. The Pirates missed their extra point kick and the battle was all tied up at 6-6. The Tigers offense took offense to Greenland’s score and went right to work. Cole Kindle hit Daniel Burton for a 38-yard pass to start the Tigers drive. Tyler Woolbright and Fisher Willsey made a couple of powerful runs to get Mansfield down to the 15-yard line as the first quarter closed with a 6-6 tie ball game. After a quick end-of-quarter break, Mansfield came back out and went for the Pirates flag. It took only one snap of the ball for Cole Kindle to zip a pass to the corner of the end zone to the Tigers sure-handed receiver, Daniel Burton, for a touchdown putting the Tigers back on top. Jeremy Strozier would tack on the extra point to give Mansfield a 13-6 favor on the scoreboard over the Pirates.
Once Greenland got the ball back, Mansfield’s premiere defense jumped back into its true form. Defensive linemen Branxton Byers and Dakota Deer smashed their way into the Pirates backfield on back-to-back plays making big time tackles. With Greenland behind the chains, the Pirates rared back and slung a pass downfield right into the hand of Mansfield’s Peyton Martin for an interception. The Tigers drove downfield again as if nothing could stop them. Nothing but themselves that is. Mansfield got down to the 15-yard line on a big run but fumbled the ball back to Greenland. Mansfield’s defense again bowed up to the challenge, but it was evident they were worn down. The Pirates took the ball from the 15-yard line to the Tigers 37 yard in eleven plays before the Tigers could sink their drive. Mansfield’s offense got the ball back but had trouble moving the ball and was forced to punt after three plays. This put the Tigers defense back out on the field and Greenland was able to wear them down from there. It took the Pirates took nine plays but they found the end zone again. Greenland made the extra point and the game was again tied, but with a score of 13-13 this time as both teams headed into halftime.
The ol’ halftime motto of every coach is “this game is zero to zero when you go back out there”. With a 13-13 score, that motto was basically true going into the second half. Greenland started off the half with the ball but the Tigers notorious defense busted the gold tooth right out of the Pirates mouth to give Mansfield the ball back. Unfortunately, the Tigers offense fell into deep waters as Greenland started blitzing seven players each play. The heavy pressure led to Mansfield turning the ball over on an interception which gave the Pirates the ball and momentum. The Pirates offense quickly fired all cannons at Mansfield’s defense and turned the tide of the game with a 28-yard pass for a touchdown. The extra point was missed, but the score set the Tigers behind 19-13 in the third quarter. Mental mistakes, turnovers, and penalties riddled the Tigers from that point on. The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth battle between defenses as neither team allowed any points for the rest of the game. Greenland ended up with the final possession of the ball late in the fourth quarter and ran the clock out on Mansfield to defeat the Tigers with a 19-13 final score.
The loss puts Mansfield behind the eight ball in conference play as Booneville, Charleston, and Lavaca remained undefeated Friday night. The Tigers are now 1-1 in conference play and still sit ahead of West Fork (0-2), Hackett (0-2), and Cedarville (0-2) but if it came down to who’s in the playoffs today, Mansfield would lose the tiebreaker to Greenland. All of that is far and away right now though. The Tigers winning streak may have ended, but there’s still a lot of football left to be played in 2022. Mansfield knows they’ve been knocked down and getting back up is solely up to them. The Tigers will have to heal up and learn quickly from their mistakes though as all eyes are now focused on the Charleston Tigers. Although Charleston will likely be favored by most media, many forget that the Tigers have a 2-2 record against Charleston over the past four years. Is the media right or will Mansfield pull out their underdog card again and shock Charleston next week? The only way to know for sure is to show up at The Jungle on Friday, October 7th at 7:00pm and find out.