The Williamsburg Yellow Jackets made the long trip to Paintsville Friday evening to play in this year’s Class A regional finals, but despite a valiant effort, they saw their 2019 season come to a close after a 36-34 loss to the Tigers.
The Jackets got off to a great start, blocking a Paintsville punt and eventually turning that into points when senior quarterback Dalton Ponder hit receiver Gavon Thomas with a pass that was good for six. The extra point attempt was good, making the score 7-0 in favor of the visitors with 8:22 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers would soon capitalize on a turnover themselves, however, when they managed to recover a fumbled Yellow Jacket snap and run the ball into the end zone for a touchdown. The extra point was no good, though, meaning Williamsburg still led, 7-6, with 7:15 remaining in the quarter.
Another fumble recovered by Paintsville eventually led to another TD and another missed PAT, but the Tigers had now taken the lead, 12-7, with 2:29 on the clock.
The Tigers intercepted a Ponder pass, and the offense was driving as the first quarter came to a close. They would eventually punt the ball away, which allowed the Jackets to put together their second scoring drive, this one capped with a Caleb Rose touchdown reception with 8:44 left in the first half. The extra point was no good, but Williamsburg had retaken the lead, 13-12.
The Jacket defense stepped up big again on the next Paintsville drive, intercepting a pass and giving them all of the momentum, but the offense was unable to capitalize. Instead, the Tigers would manage to find the end zone one more time, converting on fourth down and taking the lead back with just 30 seconds on the clock. After a successful two-point conversion, the home team led 20-13 going into the half.
The second half of play started off with a bang, as Gavon Thomas ran the opening kick all the way back for Williamsburg. The PAT was good, and just like that, the game was all knotted up at 20-20.
It did not take Paintsville long to respond, though, a they scored again at the 8:56 mark and added on another two-point conversion to take a 28-20 lead.
Another Rose TD catch at 4:48 let the Tigers know that the Jackets were not finished yet, but Williamsburg was unable to tie the game again, failing on the ensuing two-point conversion try.
A back-and-forth third quarter continued when Paintsville ran in another score with 2:57 remaining, and another successful two-point try put them up by ten, 36-26.
Dalton Ponder would find his way into the end zone with a quarterback keeper on the very first play of the fourth quarter, and he would connect with receiver Devonte Powell on the two-point conversion attempt to bring the Jackets to within two, 36-34.
The Williamsburg defense forced a turnover on downs near midfield, and the offense drove the ball deep into Tiger territory, but they could not punch it in for another score. The home team took over after the Jackets failed to convert on fourth down, and they were able to run out the clock to secure the narrow victory.
After the game, Williamsburg head coach Jerry Herron said in an interview that he was very proud of how hard his team played, and he was sorry about the fact that they would not have the opportunity to compete in this year’s state championship tournament semifinals. The Jackets end their 2019 campaign with an overall record of 10 wins, 3 losses.