Another big game for Winona quarterback An’Darius Coffey wasn't quite enough because the Tigers simply could not stop Amanda Elzy running back Dephabian Fant.
The result was a 42-36 Amanda Elzy victory that gave the Panthers the Region 3-3A championship. Winona will need to beat Ruleville Central Friday to be assured of second in the region and a home game in the opening round of the 3A playoffs November 8.
Fant simply ran wild with 12 carries for 359 yards and six touchdowns on runs of 75, 80, 20, 35, 52 and 74 yards.
“He’s one of the best backs I have ever coached against,” said Winona coach Joey Tompkins. “If he ever gets going and you don’t stop him at the first line of defense, you can’t get a hand on him because he is so fast.”
Coffey nearly matched Fant score for score, running for three touchdowns and throwing for two. He was 12 for 20 passing for 152 yards and carried 31 times for 255 yards.
It was a back and forth game from start to finish. Coffey began the scoring with a 61-yard run and the first of four PATs by Cade Eldridge made it 7-0. Fant's first TD made it 7-6 when a two-point attempt failed.
Coffey threw TD passes of 27 and 32 yards to Robert McMath in the second quarter, but Fant had two TD runs and the Panthers were successful on two-point conversions after each for a 22-21 halftime lead.
Coffey added touchdown runs of 25 and 60 yards and a two-point conversion run in the second half, but Fant had three more TDs and the Panthers were successful on a couple of two-point attempts.
Coffey's final TD pulled the Tigers with 42-36 late in the fourth quarter. Winona got possession one last time, but turned the ball over on downs in the final minute.
Coffey and Fant both have gaudy stats for the season. Coffey has totaled 3,067 yards and 40 touchdowns running and passing. Fant has carried 133 times for 1,498 yards (11.3 average) and 16 TDs.
Winona ran 77 offensive plays to 46 for Amanda Elzy, outgained the Panthers 481 to 453 and had a 26-13 edge in first downs. McMath had seven receptions for 112 yards.
Dennis Turner replaced an injured Blake Cooper at tailback and ran well according to Tompkins with 18 carries for 69 yards.
Coming off the best game of his career with 181 yards against Coahoma Early College, Cooper suffered ankle ligament and tendon damage against Humphreys County. He is out for the season and will require surgery.
Cooper is a strong runner, but Tompkins said his blocking will be missed most of all.