PINEVILLE - The Pineville Mountain Lions turned up their defensive pressure late in the first quarter to swing momentum in their favor and used a strong ground game to seal the deal on a 38-24 Laurel Bowl win over the South Floyd Raiders.
Connor Ford and Bradley Fuson both ran for over 100 yards with Ford finding the end zone three times and Fuson once. Tucker Woolum added a pair of one-yard TD runs and mixed in some passes to keep the defense honest.
Early on it was Raider senior wingback Blake Dye making life hard for the Lions. He capped a game-opening 78-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run and after the two-point conversion South Floyd led 8-0.
Pineville answered on their first drive and Fuson’s 16-yard TD run made it 8-6 midway through the first quarter.
Dye took the ensuing kick and returned it 90 yards for touchdown and another conversion put the Raider lead at 16-6. But the Lions were able to keep him quiet for the rest of the first half.
Ford’s one-yard TD run got the Lions back in it and at the end of the first quarter the score was 16-12.
Dalton Ledbetter had two big sacks on South Floyd’s final possession of the period and Woolum capped a quick drive with a one-yard touchdown run to give Pineville their first lead of the night. He passed to Ledbetter for the conversion to make it 20-16 with 10:00 remaining in the half.
It was Ford coming free on a blitz to disrupt the next Raider drive and middle linebacker Matt Hubbard also had a tackle for loss. Ford’s 16-yard run extended the Lions’ lead to 26-16 with just under six minutes to play in the half.
The Raiders were driving late in the second quarter, but freshman Will Adams intercepted a pass at around the Pineville 20 and returned it all the way back to the South Floyd 20. Another sneak into the end zone by Woolum made it 32-16 with :50 to go in the quarter and that was the score at halftime.
Much of the third quarter was ate up by a 16-play, 45-yard drive by the Raiders. They converted three fourth downs in marching from their own 15 to the Lion 40. Pineville’s defense stiffened there as Woolum broke up two passes, including one on fourth down.
Pineville went from their own 40 back down to the Raider 15 on eight plays during a drive that stretched into the fourth quarter. The big gainer along the way was a 51-yard hookup from Woolum to Ford. An illegal block set the Lions back, but Woolum muscled his way for a seven-yard gain on 4th and short to get down it to the 15. Byron Caudill intercepted a Woolum pass in the end zone on the next play as the score remained 32-16.
Fullback Toby Tackett had a 14-yard run and later took a screen pass for a gain of 38 to set the Raiders up with a 1st and Goal from the Pineville 8. Dye found room around the right side on the next play and scored on an 8-yard run. Hunter Johnson passed to Jacob Meade for the conversion and South Floyd was within 32-24 with 7:22 to play.
Despite scoring five touchdowns to the Raiders three, the Lions were only up by one touchdown plus a conversion late in the game.
After each team was flagged for a five-yard penalty on two onside kick attempts, the Raiders hit one deep and Ford brought it out the 21. From there the Lions turned to their ground game to close out the win.
Fuson ran it six time for 60 yards and Ford three times for 19 as Pineville marched down the field. Fuson had runs of 14 and 22 yards on the drive and Ford capped it with a 12-yard TD run to put the Lions up 38-24 with 2:05 to play.
South Floyd picked up 15 yards on a pass from Johnson to Meade to get into PHS territory and after two incompletions, Tackett rumbled for 19 yards and a first down at the 30. Pineville’s defense held from there as John Robbins broke up a pass and Ledbetter threw Dye for a loss of two after a catch. Following a dropped third down pass, Adams nearly came away with another interception as he broke up a pass in the end zone for a turnover on downs.
From there Woolum just had to take a couple of knees to run the final 1:05 off the clock.
Ford was named the offensive player of the game for the Lions while Ledbetter was the defensive player of the game. For South Floyd Dye was the offensive player of the game and Jarrett Little the defensive player.
South Floyd has this week open. The Raiders will visit Knott County Central on Sept. 13.