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Pineville playoff run ends in Williamsburg

By John Henson
Contributing Writer

WILLIAMSBURG — From Alec Poore to Dalton Ponder to Sydney Bowen, the Williamsburg Yellow Jackets have enjoyed a revolving door of standout quarterbacks and a continuous string of District 8 titles that reached five after a 49-13 victory Friday over visiting Pineville.

Bowen, a sophomore, ran for 122 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 126 yards and one TD as the Jackets improved to 5-2 and continued their district domination despite suffering major graduation losses last spring.

“He’s as good as there is around here. I love his quick release and I love his athleticism,” said Pineville offensive coordinator Jason Chappell, who was in charge of the squad with coach Randy Frazier out to due to covid protocol. “They do a great job here of preparing whoever is playing that position. He has some special things to go with it. The ball looks different coming out of his hands. What they do and how they teach is part of that, but they have also had some great athletes at that position.”

The first of two bad snaps on punts set up the first Williamsburg score, a 3-yard run by Bowen to cap a three-play, 12-yard drive.

Micah Steely’s extra point gave the Jackets a 7-0 lead with 5:42 left in the first quarter.

Pineville answered as Braiden Lingar had two big gains, a 43-yard run and a 21-yard pass from Reese Capps. Trevor Kidd went the final 4 yards with 1:33 to play in the first quarter. Luke Naylor’s extra point tied the game.

A long kickoff return by Jayden Rainwater to near midfield put the Williamsburg offense back in business. A 35-yard pass from Bowen to Gavon Thomas set up Bowen for a 20-yard TD run with 50 seconds left in the opening period. Steely’s extra point gave the Jackets a 14-7 lead.

A second bad snap was covered by Kidd, but Williamsburg had the ball on the Lions’ 20. Bowen found Jevonte Powell for a touchdown on the next play. Steele’s extra point pushed the lead to 21-7 with 10:19 left in the first half.

“The kicking game got us. Our long snapper, Noah Caldwell, is out tonight and that killed us,” Chappell said. “Our kids battled, but you can’t give players like Bowen and (Gavon) Thomas a short field. The wheels fell off after that. The kicking game was kind of the nail in the coffin.”

A Cade Hatcher interception gave the ball back to the Jackets on the Pineville 41 two plays later. Powell had runs of 21 and 20 yards and Steely followed with an extra point for a 28-7 lead with 9:41 to play in the half.

Another interception, this one by Colin Powers, set up a two-play scoring drive. Bowen teamed with Rainwater for 15 yards, then handed the ball to Marty Gilly for a 2-yard TD run. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but the Jackets led 34-7.

Gilly added an 11-yard touchdown run with 2:05 to play in the half to cap a three-play drive that featured a 46-yard pass to Rainwater and a 10-yard pass to Chase Potter. Bowen’s run made the score 42-7 at halftime.

Thomas started a running clock when he returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown with 5:40 left in the third quarter. Steely’s extra point pushed the lead to 49-7.

“We were able to get things together after that score and we got on it,” Williamsburg coach Jerry Herron said. “We switched our wide receivers in different spots and then we made some big plays. This was a good win for us. Pineville came ready to play. With everything, we lost from last season and to win another district championship is huge. What the kids have accomplished this year has been huge.”

Pineville went on a 16-play, 64-yard drive that was capped by Devon Morris’ 3-yard run with 4:40 to play. Morris, the Lions’ leading rusher returning this season, was slowed by an injury over the last month and saw limited action Friday.

The Yellow Jackets will now switch their focus to Friday’s regional title game matchup against Nicholas County.

Pineville (5-3) advanced to the second round of the playoffs first time since 2016.

“I feel if we stayed healthy all year long we could have seen more growth,” Chappell said. “Our skilled kids have been beat to death. It’s been a revolving door (with injuries) and that makes it tough, but we have some good pieces coming back. We’ll miss some of these seniors. I think they have helped us take positive steps. We have a good junior class we can lean on next year and some good young ones. We’re excited about our future, and I know coach Frazier is as well.”

W — Bowen 3 run (Steely kick)
P — Kidd 4 run (Naylor kick)
W — Bowen 20 run (Steely kick)
W — Powell 20 pass from Bowen (Steely kick)
W — Bowen 20 run (Steely kick)
W — Gilly 2 run (pass failed)
W — Gilly 11 run (Bowen run)
W — Thomas 67 punt return (Steely kick)
P — D. Morris 3 run (run failed)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING—Pineville, Lingar 4-73, Hall 10-32, Capps 7-22, Kidd 21-20, D, Morris 1-3. Williamsburg, Lingar 4-73, Hall 10-32, Capps 7-22, Kidd 21-20, D. Morris 1-3.
PASSING— Pineville, Capps 4-13-3-48. Williamsburg, Bowen 5-13-2-126, Potter 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING—Pineville, Lingar 1-20, Teague 1-14, Kidd 1-8, Akers 1-6. Williamsburg, Rainwater 2-61, Thomas 1-35, Powell 1-20, Potter 1-10.