In an overtime game with a district championship on the line, it was a battle of two star-studded quarterbacks on Friday night when Winona Christian took on Carroll Academy.
In one corner, Winona had gun-slinging eighth grader John White while Carroll had hard-charging Morgan Mims.
White threw for a season-high 477 yards and six TDs and took the Stars 78 yards down the field with 38.5 seconds on the clock, throwing a 20-yard touchdown pass to Choyce Diffey and completed a two-point conversion to force overtime and eventually led Winona to a 48-46 win over Carroll Academy on Friday night.
With the win, the Stars improve to 7-0 on the season and finish 4-0 in District 2-3A play. Carroll falls to 5-2 on the year and 1-1 in 2-3A play.
Hall of Fame WCS head coach Junior Graham said the game was one of the best and most exciting that he has ever been involved in as the Stars went 78 yards in just three plays to force overtime.
“It was one to remember, that’s for sure,” Graham said. “I had one game like that in 2004 where we had to drive 95 yards to tie and won the game in double overtime. It was just a great high school football game. Carroll has so much pride and brought a huge crowd and our people turned out to support us. I thought it spoke volumes of both schools.”
Despite the loss, Carroll coach Bo Milton was proud of his players after the game.
“It was a crazy game,” Milton said. “I thought we showed our character and played hard. We never quit. I thought Winona played good to start the game and got us down. But we settled down in the third and were able to spread them out and Morgan broke some big runs. I thought we played well in the fourth and that gave us a chance to get back into the ball game.”
Carroll got the ball to start the game and promptly drove 65 yards in seven plays. Quarterback Morgan Mims had a big 40-yard run on the drive and finished off with a 9-yard run. Hunter Bracken ran in the two-point conversion and Carroll led 8-0.
Winona answered right back with a seven-play, 66-yard drive as John White hit Choyce Diffey on a 55-yard pass and completed the drive with a 19-yard pass to Diffey. The try for two failed and WCS led 12-8.
Carroll’s offense sputtered for the remainder of the half as they lost three fumbles and punted twice. Meanwhile the Winona offense got a couple of big plays from Dalton Wiggins. The first was an 87-yard touchdown pass with 9:07 left in the half as the Stars took a 12-8 lead. The second was a 25-yard pass to Wiggins at the end of the half as the Stars led 18-8 at the half.
After swapping possessions to start the second half, Winona put together a nine-play, 46-yard drive as Thomas Costilow scored on a 5-yard run. The PAT failed and Winona led 24-8.
“We had some turnovers and penalties that got us out of our rhythm,” Milton said. “I give Winona a lot of credit, they did a good job of getting us out of what we do. But we kept battling and that’s what I am so proud of. We may not have won the district title but we still have a lot of football left to play. If we do our part, I think it’s a good chance we could see each other again.”
That’s when Mims started to take over for the Rebels and lead the comeback.
Down 24-8, Carroll went 54 yards in 10 plays as Mims scored on a 6-yard run. Mims hit Reese Fulton on the two-point conversion and Winona led 24-16.
After a Winona three and out, Carroll got right back to work as they went 63 yards in seven plays as Mims scored on a 1-yard sneak. The two-point conversion was good and Carroll tied the score at 24 apiece.
The two teams traded turnovers as Diffey intercepted a pass, but WCS fumbled it right back as Fulton recovered for the Rebels.
The Rebels then took the lead as Mims scored on a 55-yard run and ran in the two-point conversion to give Carroll a 32-24 lead with less than a minute left in the game.
But the Stars needed just three plays as White hit Diffey on a 25-yard pass and Reed Roberts on a 33-yard completion. White then hit Diffey on a 20-yard touchdown pass as time expired to pull the Stars within two at 32-30. White then hit Self for the two-point conversion to send the game into overtime.
Winona got the ball to start the first overtime and after a penalty, White hit Diffey on a 31-yard pass and then converted the two-point conversion on a pass to Costilow.
Carroll answered as Mims scored on a 10-yard run to send the game into a second overtime tied 40-40.
Carroll then scored first in the second overtime as Mims hit Bryce Collier on a 10-yard pass. The try for two fell shot as Carroll led 46-40.
Winona scored on its first play as White hit Reed Roberts on a 10-yard pass and took the win with a two-point conversion pass to Latham Hill.
White had a huge night as he was 26-of-37 passing for 477 yards and six touchdowns. Diffey had 158 yards receiving on six catches while Wiggins had 186 yards on 10 catches. Roberts had 87 yards receiving on four catches.
“I think the biggest thing is our offensive line gave us time to throw,” Graham said. “They brought pressure all night long. I thought our quarterback did a great job of getting the ball to the right receivers. I thought our receivers did a good job of getting open and running good routes. I felt good about it until Dalton went out and that’s when things sort of changed for us. I give Carroll a lot of credit. They are a physical football team that will be a tough out in the playoffs. Morgan is a special high school football player and they run the kind of offense that carries well into the playoffs.”
Bradley Pinkard led the defense with 13 tackles while Self had 12 stops. Ben Pinkard had 11 tackles while Hill and Roberts both had interceptions.
Mims finished the night with 240 yards rushing on 21 carries with five touchdowns. He also had 79 yards passing on 12-of-16 attempts. Logan Taylor had six catches for 61 yards while Fulton had three for 19.
Milton credited Fulton with five tackles, four for a loss, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Bracken had six tackles while Austin Smith had four tackles.