By Derek Trimm
Special to the JR
WINFIELD — The Winfield Pirates began the 2023 season on a hot and steamy night in Winfield, and used their defense, turnovers and big plays to hold off the Dora Bulldogs 23-20, on Thursday, Aug. 24.
The Pirates turned a fumble by Dora into a score and used big plays and later held off the Bulldogs’ comeback efforts to secure their first victory of the season.
Dora won the coin toss and elected to receive, and the Dora kick returner fumbled the football, and Winfield’s Preston Nelson recovered giving the Pirates possession at the Bulldogs’ 29 yard line.
Braxton Tilley got the drive started with a run for 3 yards, and then quarterback Brady May passed to Nelson for 5 more yards to the Dora 21. Tilley picked up one more yard before Keylan Hughes burst through the defense for a 14 yard gain to the Dora 6 yard line.
Hughes carried the next two plays, capping the drive with a 4 yard touchdown run.
A bad snap forced a 2 point conversion pass attempt by Declan Morgan who completed the pass to Jacob Barnes, but Barnes could not reach the goal line, and the try failed. Winfield got the early 6-0 lead with 9:42 left in the first quarter.
Dora could not get any point on the board on its first drive of the game. The Bulldogs drove 62 yards on 19 plays but missed a 27 yard field goal.
In the second quarter, Winfield took over after a Bulldogs’ punt at the Dora 40 yard line, and needed only one play to reach the end zone.
May threw to a wide open D’Angelo Bankhead on a post route for a 40 yard touchdown pass.
Hughes added the 2 point conversion run to push the Pirates’ lead to 14-0 with 5:15 left in the first half.
Dora answered the score on the ensuing drive, going 86 yards on 12 plays to make it 14-7 with 2:00 left in the second quarter.
Dora tied the game in the third quarter as the Bulldogs scored on a 28 yard touchdown pass and with the extra point made the score 14-14 with 8:14 left in the third quarter.
Winfield answered the Dora score with another of their own, as Morgan got things started with a 47 yard kick return to set up the Pirates at the Bulldogs’ 26 yard line.
Hughes and Morgan carried the load on the short drive running the ball down to the 3 yard line, and Morgan finished the drive with a 3 yard touchdown run.
Barnes added the extra point to give the Pirates the lead again at 21-14 with 5:59 left in the third quarter.
Dora gave up a safety on their next drive, after the Pirates held the Bulldogs deep in their own territory and forced a punt. The snap rolled onto the ground and out of the back of the end zone for the safety to push the Pirates lead to 23-14 with 3:59 left in the third quarter.
Dora added another touchdown with 1:20 to play in the game, but the extra point was missed, and Winfield held on to a 23-20 lead.
The onside kick by Dora was handled by the Pirates, but Winfield could not put the game away as Dora used all of their timeouts and got the ball back with 47 seconds left in the game.
The Pirates’ defense held the Bulldogs deep in their own territory forcing a turnover on downs and taking over at the Dora 3 yard line.
See complete story in the Journal Record.