BIG STONE GAP — Powell Valley probably has flashier offensive weapons than Andrew Meador.
But the senior wide receiver was sharp enough to be the dagger in Honaker’s Region D championship hopes.
Meador’s 17-yard touchdown reception from Cedric Mitchell with 2:22 remaining in the game lifted the Vikings to a 33-28 win over the Tigers in Saturday’s opening round of the Group A, Division 2 playoffs at Bullitt Park.
“We just made plays. We got it in the hands of our playmakers,” said Powell Valley coach Phil Robbins, whose 8-3 squad takes on Gate City in the nightcap of next week’s Region D championship doubleheader at Virginia-Wise.
The tenacious Tigers (6-5) led 28-27 after a 10-yard scoring run by quarterback Justin Hall with 5:09 left to play.
The Vikings had struggled to move the ball the entire second half. Two third-quarter fumbles were partly to blame, but Honaker’s massive size advantage at the line of scrimmage clearly took a cumulative physical toll.
The nine-play, 60-yard winning drive was saved at fourth-and-five by Mitchell’s 16-yard completion to Malcom Pinkston. Clark Dye tackled Mitchell for a 3-yard loss on the next play, but Meador’s eyes were open.
“We noticed the safety was cheating over to the other side with Terrell (Turner) and Malcom. I let coach Robbins know,” said Meador. “Delmas (Lawson) ran a good hitch on the right side of me, the cornerback bit on it just in time and we ran a corner pattern. Luckily, we got it snuck past him.”
An interception by John Michael Allen with 47 seconds on the clock caged the Tigers for good.
Meador caught a 2-point conversion pass from Mitchell in the first half, but his last catch was the only TD pass of the day for Mitchell, who completed 6 of 13 attempts for 88 yards.
The Viking quarterback’s highlight clip occurred on special teams. Just before Honaker’s final touchdown, Mitchell returned a punt 84 yards to score, giving Powell Valley the 27-20 lead on Allen’s PAT kick with 9:28 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“I slipped up and a guy had me and I thought I was going to get tackled. When I stayed on my feet I knew that I had blockers downfield waiting on me. They were waving, telling me to come their way,” said Mitchell.
One of the wavers was Brandon Addison, who sprung Mitchell for keeps with a pancake block on Tigers all-purpose stud Logan Ball.
Addison had collected an interception in the third period but his block was extra redemption for having tipped the ball into the hands of Matt Shortridge for a 9-yard scoring reception. That Tigers TD tied it 20-20 with 2:04 on the third-quarter clock.
Myron Pinkston carried the ball 21 times for 91 yards, including a 1-yard scoring plunge at 8:46 in the first quarter and a 5-yard touchdown run that put the Vikings ahead 20-8 with 9:44 remaining in the first half. Brother Malcom rushed for 53 yards, including his 3-yard scoring run in the first quarter.
The 6-1, 200-pound Ball had 32 bruising carries for 120 yards, including his 7-yard scoring run just before the half. His 30-yard touchdown off a screen pass initiated scoring for the Tigers, who bamboozled the Vikings with an onside kick on the opening kickoff. Dye, who also caught a 2-point conversion pass from Hall, had the recovery on that one.
“We felt like our offensive line was doing a tremendous job giving us time to pass and, of course, time to run. It was no secret what we were doing,” said Honaker coach Doug Hubbard. “We just needed to come up with a couple more big plays defensively and on special teams.”