Winona's 18-game regular season winning streak came to an end despite another outstanding performance by quarterback An'Darius Coffey. The Tigers were defeated by Yazoo County 41-35 to fall to 4-1 for the season.
Coffey completed 23 of 33 passes for 394 yards and all five Tiger touchdowns. Robert McMath caught 11 passes for 177 yards and four touchdowns, Adavion Hargrove had five receptions for 128 yards and one TD and Dadarion Small had four catches for 79 yards.
Down 41-35 with less than four minutes left in the game, Winona appeared to make a stop on third down, with a chance to get the ball back for the potential of a winning touchdown drive. But Winona was called for a horse collar tackle, giving Yazoo County a fresh set of downs to work on the clock.
There was less than a minute left when Winona finally did get the ball back and the Tigers were unable to do anything.
“I had never seen that call before. It totally blew my mind,” said Winona Coach Joey Tompkins. But he added, “It is what it is. The better team that night won. We didn’t play well defensively until the last three or four drives.”
Winona ran the ball only 22 times for 48 yards, 44 on 17 carries by Coffey. “The game didn't dictate us running the ball. It dictated us having to throw it,” Tompkins said. “We were playing from behind.”
Blake Cooper had only four yards on five carries for Winona, but earned praise from his coach for his blocking. “He did what we asked him to do. He’s our best blocker.”
The last time Winona lost a regular season game was September 29, 2017 against Leflore County 56-42. The Tigers won their final three regular season games that year and reached the 2A championship game. They were 11-0 in the regular season last year and won their first four this year.
“I told my kids that we hadn’t lost a regular season game in I don’t know how long,” Tompkins said, adding “We’re going to get better.”
Coffey has shown great improvement throwing the ball this year. He was under .500 as a first year starter at quarterback last year, connecting on 91 of 188 passes. Through five games this season, he has completed nearly three quarters of his passes, 68 of 91 for 1,117 yards, 12 touchdowns and no interceptions, He also leads the Tigers in running with 87 carries for 591 yards and eight TDs.
It won’t get any easier for Winona Friday when they host defending 3A state champion Water Valley. The Blue Devils are 3-1, coming off a 14-7 upset loss to Calhoun City.
“They’re kind of like us. They’re not used to losing,” Tompkins said.
Winona edged Water Valley 21-20 last year, with Coffey running for 93 yards and two TDs.