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Defense powers Zebras to victory

by Staff Report | September 16, 2023 at 3:56 a.m.
Pine Bluff's Austyn Dendy flies over a Vilonia defender during the first half of the Zebras' win over the Eagles in Vilonia on Friday night. (Special to The Commercial)

Pine Bluff High School's defense outscored Vilonia's offense and nearly pitched a shutout Friday night in taking a 35-6 football victory at Vilonia's Phillip D. Weaver Stadium.

The Zebras (3-1, 2-0 in 5A-Central), who have won three in a row, returned two interceptions for touchdowns and led 35-0 by the 9:38 mark of the third quarter, invoking a continuous running clock for the rest of the game.

Kevin Pope returned a pick more than 50 yards for a touchdown with 6:17 left in the first quarter. That was Pine Bluff's second interception of the game, after Kayvon Stringer picked off a pass earlier.

Vilonia (0-4, 0-2), which had success moving the ball in the early going, was seeking to take back momentum after pinning Pine Bluff at its own 4 on a punt. But Marquez Brentley broke a 50-yard run to the Eagles' 46, and Landon Holcomb later closed out the drive with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Courtney Crutchfield with 3 minutes left in the period.

The Eagles moved into the red zone by the turn of the quarter, only for Julius Stribbling to stop them with a pick-6 from 80 yards out. That bumped the Zebras' lead to 21-0 with 11:41 left before halftime.

A 45-yard punt return by Austyn Dendy set up the fourth scoring drive for the Zebras. Holcomb ran from 6 yards out for the score with 3:08 left in the half.

Brentley punched in a touchdown on a 25-yard carry with 9:38 left in the third quarter, invoking the continuous clock.

Vilonia's Cadien Gipson ended the shutout on a short touchdown run with 2 minutes left.

Pine Bluff has averaged 46.7 points per game in its victories and will host Maumelle for homecoming next Friday. Maumelle had a bye week.

Print Headline: Defense powers Zebras to victory


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