ACKERMAN – In a game with big plays, Winona quarterback AnDarius Coffey authored most of them in a 42-14 victory over Choctaw County. Coffey totaled 390 yards of offense and five touchdowns, including a 99-yard TD pass, enabling the Tigers to pull away in the second half for their 16th consecutive regular season victory.
“Guys, I'm super proud of you,” Coach Joey Tompkins told his players right after the victory. “It's a great day to be a Tiger.”
The game was close for a half. Choctaw County led 14-13 late in the second quarter and was in position to add to the lead when CCHS quarterback Tylan Carter ran 69 yards to the Winona three. The Tigers dodged a bullet when two running plays and a short pass left Choctaw County at the three, resulting in a field goal attempt that sailed wide left.
Two plays later, Coffey shed one tackle at the line of scrimmage and raced 82 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown. Adavion Hargrove ran in the two-point conversion to give the Tigers a 21-14 lead at the break.
The second half was all Winona. After surrendering 208 yards in the first half, the Tiger defense held Choctaw County to 53 yards after intermission. Coffey did the rest.
There were no halftime adjustments, Tompkins said.
“A lot of it had to do with us tackling a lot better in the second half,” Tompkins said. “We talked about some of the things they did. We talked about the importance of tackling.”
The Tigers went 42 yards on their first possession of the third quarter, scoring on a four-year run by Coffey. Winona was backed up on its next possession following a 51-yard punt by Beard to the Tiger four. Facing third down at the one, Coffey hit a streaking Hargrove in stride at midfield and he went the rest of the way untouched.
“It’s probably going to be the longest play in Winona football history,” Tompkins said “I figured he (Hargrove) was faster than the guy who was guarding him. The worst thing that could happen would be an interception. An interception would be a long punt. An incompletion we would punt anyway. I thought it was a win-win situation so we just took a chance.”
Coffey added a 45-yard TD pass to Dadarion Small in the fourth quarter.
Winona opened the scoring in the first quarter on a five-yard pass from Coffey to Robert McMath after Quentin McCorkley recovered a Carter fumble at the Choctaw County 24. The Chargers tied it a 7-7 when Carter hooked up with Preston Payne on a 56-yard scoring pass.
Winona went back ahead when Dennis Turner returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards. Choctaw County took its only lead 14-13 on a seven-yard TD run by Carter and the successful PAT by Beard.
Coffey was eight of nine passing for 178 yards and ran 15 times for 212 yards. Hargrove had two receptions for 111yards and carried three times for 49 yards. Carter supplied most of the Choctaw County offense with 14 carries for 121 yards and six completions for 68 yards.
Winona outgained Choctaw County 435-261.
“We have good players, 12 (Coffey), 2 (running back Blake Cooper), 5 (McMath), 7 (Hargrove). The list goes on,” Tompkins said.
The game drew a large crowd to Dale Davidson Field, with stands on both sides filled and many more fans ringing the field.
Next up for the Tigers is a road game Friday with Kosciusko, a 4A school that is 1-1 following a 20-16 loss to Yazoo County and a 14-13 victory over Newton County. The Whippets are led by junior running back Kentaveus Washington, who has carried 37 times for 227 yards and two TDs in the first two games.
The teams met in the final regular season game a year ago, with Winona winning 53-13 behind a career high 288 rushing yards and five TDs by Coffey.
Tompkins said Kosciusko will be fired up as a result of last year, but he added “We are a totally different team from what we were last year and so are they. That was 2018, this is 2019.”