SEMINARY – Winona gave up more than 700 yards in offense to Seminary in the 3A quarterfinals and still came within six yards of victory.
After a Seminary touchdown gave the Bulldogs a 46-41 lead with 25 seconds left, Winona quarterback An’darius Coffey hooked up with Jay Lofton on a pass from midfield to the Seminary six with eight seconds left.
“He broke a tackle. I thought he was going to score,” said Winona Coach Joey Tompkins. “He ended up getting tackled at the six.”
Two passes into the end zone fell incomplete, ending the game and the Tigers’ season with a 13-1 record that included the championship of Region 5-3A and playoff wins against Tylertown and Magee.
Winona trailed most of the game, by as much as 14 points, until a 59-yard TD run by Coffey and the point after by Cade Eldridge gave the Tigers their only lead, 41-40, with four and a half minutes left. Coffey also had an 80-yard TD run and threw scoring passes of 46 yards to Blake Cooper, 20 yards to Lofton and 10 yards to Davandre Bays.
Winona’s other touchdown was a 42-yard run by Lofton.
Coffey had a big night, competing eight passes for 204 yards and running 15 times for 166 yards. Lofton had six carries for 57 yards as the Tigers accumulated 233 yards on the ground and 437 overall.
But the Tigers could not stop the Seminary ground game, especially sophomore Marquis Crosby. The Bulldogs ran for 680 yards, including 467 yards and four touchdowns by Crosby.
Jalen Campbell, the Tigers’ leading tackler, did not start the game because of an ankle sprain. “He wasn’t ever 100 percent. That had a lot to do with it.” Tompkins said. “It was a bad time to have your leading tackler less than 100 percent.”
Tompkins was quick to add “Don’t take anything away from them (Seminary).”
The 46 points surrendered was twice as many as in any other game this season. Tompkins said Seminary’s Wing T offense gave the Tigers trouble. “It’s a very effective offense, and people don’t run it anymore.”
Coffey’s 204 yards passing was his high for the year. He finished with 1,401 yards and 16 touchdowns passing and 1,445 yards with 19 TDs on the ground. Lofton had 110 carries for 978 yards and 16 TDs.
The Tigers averaged 275 yards per game on the ground and 103 through the air while averaging 32 points per outing.
This was Winona’s first year as a 3A school. The Tigers were 2A state runners-up last year, but moved up to 3A due to consolidation with Montgomery County.
“I think it was very successful,” Tompkins said of his team’s season. “It didn’t end like we wanted it to. There’s only one team in 3A that’s going to end like they want it to.”
Seminary has a home game Friday with defending state champion Jefferson Davis County in the South State final. Seminary defeated the Jaguars 20-14 during the regular season.
“It’s tough to beat someone twice,” Tompkins said.
Water Valley, a team Winona beat 21-20, will play North Panola in the North State final. The championship game will be at 11 a.m. Nov. 30 at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.