The Pineville Mountain Lions wracked up big play after big play on Friday as they rolled to a 49-15 win over Berea in the Laurel Bowl.
“We put all three phases together and we did it in a real physical fashion, which is how we want to play,” PHS coach Jason Chappell said. “When you put all three phases together — offense, defense and the kicking game — you’re generally going to come out with a pretty good result. I’m really proud of our kids. I felt like we played physical, played hard and stuck together and really finished the game.”
Senior running back Scooby Morris ran for 156 yards and two touchdowns and added a 56-yard punt return for another score and a 55-yard touchdown catch for a fourth TD to lead the way.
Freshman quarterback Jason Nunley completed six of 10 passes for 122 yards and two TDs with one interception and added 58 yards and another score on the ground.
Senior Eli Thompson caught two passes for 60 yards and a touchdown to lead the receivers.
Pineville’s defense forced a three and out to start the game and the offense went straight to work. Nunley went 50 yards down to the goal line on the first snap, but a block in the back penalty left the Lions with a first down at the 39. Morris picked up 27 yards on run and then went 12 yards to the end zone. Josh Naylor’s kick make it 7-0.
Berea answered with a long scoring drive. The big play was a 34-yard pass from Jayson Coburn to Koty Roberts to convert a 4th and 16. Two plays later Jaiden Cunningham scored on a 2-yard run and added the conversion to put the Pirates up 8-7 with 3:26 to go in the first quarter.
“Number 34 (Cunningham) for them is an absolute load of a back. I felt like as a team we did a great job tackling him. He’s going to be hard to tackle for anybody,” Chappell said. “They threw the ball a little bit, but I felt like the back end of our defense played much better tonight.”
Following an exchange of possessions, Morris broke a 15-yard run and Thompson took a short pass from Nunley 39 yards down to the Berea 6. Morris scored from there, breaking one tackle and diving through a pair of defenders to get into the end zone to put the Lions ahead to stay 13-8 with 8:3 to play in the half.
The Lions forced a quick Berea punt and Morris scooped up a bouncing ball and got around the first wave of coverage as he got to the right sideline. From there he cut back across the field and picked up blockers on his way to a 56-yard return for a touchdown. Nunley ran in the conversion to make it 21-8.
“Scooby didn’t get the MVP or whatever, but definitely could have got it. We could give it to him every week because he does so much for our football team,” said Chappell. “For my money, he’s as good as anybody in this region. He has elite quickness, elite vision, just a phenomenal football player. He’s electric in so many ways and we’re fortunate to have him for sure.”
Nunley recovered a Berea fumle on the following possession and the Lions went 69 yards on eight plays. Morris had runs of 10 and 32 yards on the drive and Nunley capped it with a 3-yard touchdown run. He passed to Evan Biliter for the conversion and 29-8 lead with 2:27 to go in the half and that remained the score at halftime.
Both teams had to punt on their first possession of the third quarter, but the Lions’s interior line collapsed the pocked and blocked Berea’s punt. Dylan Abner corralled the deflected put and took it back 31 yards for a Mountain Lion touchdown. Naylor’s kick made the score 36-8.
Morris intercepted a pass and took it back 26 yards with a personal foul tacked on to give the Lions a first down at the Berea 17. Nunley passed to Thompson for a 17-yard touchdown and a 42-8 lead.
Morris outran the Berea defense after catching a quick slant and went 55-yards for a touchdown with 8:52 remaining in the game. Naylor’s kick made it 49-8 and the clock ran continuously the rest of the way.
Cunningham scored on another 2-yard run and Peyton Jones kick set the final at 49-15.
In the awards presentation following the game, the Mountain Lion offensive and defensive lines were recognized as the players of the game.
“It was much deserved. I felt like they controlled the game. We threw the ball, we ran the ball,” Chappell added. “Jason played really well tonight and I felt like he took another step forward in his development and all that does is make us evenmore dangerous. We’ve got good people on the perimeter and when they start making plays along with Scooby and Noah and Landon, and our offensive line is just going to be that much more effective inside the box. It’s exciting to see some of those kids come on a little bit.”
Pineville (4-1) has an open date this week before returning to action on Oct. 1 at Jackson County.