|Winnsboro wins first district game at Quinlan Ford|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
OCt. 15, 2005 - QUINLAN - Winnsboro coach Steve Pinnell knows one thing heading into the final three weeks of the District 11-3A season - the Red Raiders need to protect the football better than they did Friday night.
The Red Raiders (3-4, 1-0) lost four fumbles inside the 10-yard line against the Quinlan Ford Panthers (0-6, 0-2) and had seven penalties for 52 yards, but prevailed in a 25-7 district-opening victory.
"We scored three times where they got called back on penalties and should have scored a couple of more on fumbles, and we just didn't take care of the football tonight," the coach said.
"Luckily, our defense kept them from getting in the end zone. They did a great job because we gave them every opportunity we could and we never put them away like we should have."
On all three of the Winnsboro touchdown drives in the game, quarterback Jake Hawkins scored each TD in under five plays from scrimmage, and the first series of the first half and the first series of the second half were touchdowns after just two plays from scrimmage.
Pinnell said the players executed the way they were supposed to on those touchdown drives, but ultimately the turnovers are what kept the game close.
"We just executed what we were supposed to do on those drives, but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot in every way that you could and we put the ball on the ground or we were getting penalties during the game," Pinnell said.
On Quinlan Ford's opening drive, Winnsboro forced a fourth-and-five from the Ford 49-yard line and punter and quarterback Josh Oliver nailed a 51-yard punt down to the Winnsboro 1-yard line.
Hawkins then went to work and on their first play took the quarterback keeper 2 yards to the 3-yard line.
On the next snap, Hawkins rolled around the right side of the offensive line and scampered 97 yards to paydirt for the early 7-0 lead after Hawkins booted the PAT good.
After the Panthers muffed the kickoff on their own 11-yard line, Winnsboro had an interesting drive as Mitch Wheeler scampered 9 yards to get the Red Raiders to the 3-yard line.
Winnsboro then had two offside penalties pancaked around a loss of four yards by Hawkins on second-and-6 and were faced with a fourth-and-11 from the Ford 12-yard line.
Hawkins then nailed a 29-yard field goal with 4:51 remaining in the first quarter for the 10-0 lead.
Quinlan's only touchdown of the game came on a 15-play drive that lasted 4:11 and was capped off with an Oliver 3-yard touchdown run for the 10-7 deficit.
On Winnsboro's opening possession of the second quarter, Hawkins scored his second touchdown on a four-play, 42-yard drive scoring from 9 yards out for the 17-7 lead. He also scored from 38 yards in the third quarter.
Winnsboro had a 10-play drive going on their next trip down the field and with second-and-goal from the 7-yard line, Tommy Evans fumbled the ball at the 9-yard line, and Pinnell said that was one of areas the Red Raiders will be working on this upcoming week.
"We have got to play a lot better offensively and take care of the football, because our game plan is to take care of the ball so the other team can't have it, and we need to be able to punch it in for scores when we have a chance," the coach said. "We didn't do either one of those things and we have got to do a better job or we are going to be in trouble the next three weeks."
Winnsboro wrapped up their first half scoring as Lanam Caton sacked Oliver in the end zone for a safety with 4:02 remaining in the half.
Hawkins was the leading rusher for the Red Raiders with 196 yards on 12 totes and three touchdowns, while Wheeler had 142 yards on 17 carries, and Pinnell said those two players need to protect the ball the remainder of the season.
"They are good players, but both of them put the ball on the ground tonight. They did a super job and we have got to take care of the football," the coach said. "Wheeler is a great running back and Hawkins does a great job of running the option for us but we have got to do a better job on offense."
Hawkins and Wheeler also had interceptions in the game for the Red Raiders.
Ford senior Jeff Doss was the leading rusher with 10 carries for 45 yards, while teammate Marcus Cox had nine totes for 13 yards.
Oliver went 22-of-35 for 279 yards passing and three interceptions, while rushing for minus-3 yards on 13 carries and one touchdown. Roman Coldren was the games leading receiver with seven catches for 84 yards, while teammate Michael Minervini had seven catches for 77 yards, and Cox had six receptions for 81 yards.
In the only other District 11-3A contest, the Commerce Tigers defeated the Rains Wildcats, 20-7, in Commerce. Mount Vernon had the bye this week and will travel to Rains next Friday night.