Every game that freshman quarterback Chase Richardson plays, it seems like the Winona signal caller gets a little better.
Richardson continued to impress as he threw for 205 yards and led the Tigers to a 45-35 win over Amory in the third round of the Class 3A North State playoffs this past week.
Winona improves to 9-1 on the season and will travel to Macon on Friday night to take on Noxubee County in the Class 3A North State finals.
It was another entertaining win for the Tigers, who are averaging 44 points a game in the playoffs.
“We were fortunate to win but I’m proud of my kids, they played hard all night,” Winona coach Joey Tompkins said. “Amory has a good football team. They had a lot of seniors and some high hopes.We made some mistakes early and they capitalized on it. We don’t play very well in the first and third quarters for some reason and we didn’t do that again. But I was impressed with our composure and relentlessness.”
There was plenty of action in the first quarter as Amory got on the board first with a 35-yard pass from Hunter Jones to Braxton Griffin to take an early 7-0 lead with 5:52 left in the period.
But the Tigers answered right back as they marched down the field and scored on a 10-yard run by Danarius Robinson. Noah Durham booted the PAT and Winona tied the score at 7-7 with 1:16 left in the first.
The scored stayed at 7-7 until late in the second quarter when Jones hit Griffin again on a 25-yard touchdown pass. The PAT was good and Amory led 14-7.
The Tigers answered as Deriaun Townsend scored on a 2-yard run a few minutes later. Durham hit the PAT to tie the game at 14-14.
The Tigers got a break on the ensuing kick when they got a safety on the kickoff to make the score 16-14.
The Tigers got the ball back and quickly drove down field as Townsend scored on a 5-yard run with 2 seconds left in the half. Durham’s kick gave Winona a 23-14 lead at the half.
“It was a tie game when we kicked it off and they fumbled it around and we tackled them for a safety,” Tompkins said. “Then we got the ball back and hit a big play and was able to punch it in for a touchdown. I thought that was a huge momentum shift.”
The Panthers came out in the second half and scored two straight touchdowns with passes of 12 and 39 yards to take a 28-23 lead.
“They had some really good skill players on offense,” Tompkins said. “Their quarterback could really throw it and they had two good receivers. Even though we gave up 35 points, I thought we played one of our best defensive games of the year. I thought we tackled as good as we have all year.”
But the Tigers answered back when they got a muffed punt. Townsend scored on a 1-yard run with 3:26 left in the third. Dadarion Small ran in the two-point conversion and Winona took a 31-28 lead.
After getting the ball back, the Tigers went on the march again as Townsend scored again on an 11-yard run with 9:12 left in the fourth quarter. Durham kicked the PAT and Winona led 38-28.
Amory responded as the Panthers drove the field and scored on a 2-yard run by Charleston French with 5:47 left in the game. The PAT was good and Winona held a 38-35 lead.
Winona didn’t take long to answer as Townsend scored his fifth touchdown of the night on a 68-yard touchdown run with 4:53 left in the game. Durham’s kick gave the Tigers a 45-35 lead for the final.
The Tigers had a balanced attack on offense as they threw for 205 yards and rushed for 197.
Richardson continued his strong play as the freshman was 10-of-13 passing for 205 yards. Townsend had another big game with 155 yards on 27 carries with five touchdowns. Richardson also had 27 yards rushing on eight carries.
Robert McMath had three catches for 71 yards while Danarius Robinson had two catches for 57 yards. DaDarion Small had two catches for 39 yards while Townsend had three catches for 38 yards.
“We had a good game throwing the football,” Tompkins said. “We were able to make some big plays in the passing game and Deriaun had another good game. If you keep on giving him the football, he’s eventually going to bust one and he did that in the fourth when he scored on the long run that sealed the win for us. Our three seniors on the offensive line (Cohlton Triplett, Devonta Mayes and Jacob Branning) don’t get enough credit. I’m really proud of them. They have made us a success on offense.”
Winona will travel to Macon to take on the always-tough Noxubee County Tigers.
Noxubee is 8-1 on the season with their lone loss coming to West Point (31-15). Noxubee has wins over Shannon (39-0), Philadelphia (33-13), Houston (15-13), Hatley (60-0), Choctaw County (29-0), Byhalia (54-6), Booneville (32-8) and North Panola (39-14).
“They are one of the best teams in the state and we will have our hands full, that’s for sure,” Tompkins said. “They might have one of the best defensive teams I have ever seen. They scored three defensive touchdowns last week and two the week before. You can’t turn the ball over to them. They were state runners-up last year and they didn’t lose anything from last year. Our offensive line will have their oil checked this week, that’s for sure.”