Winnsboro rides solid first half to win over Prairiland

By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Nov. 17, 2007 - GREENVILLE - Following a regular season in which Winnsboro averaged 48 points per game, the Red Raiders came into their bi-district contest Friday night against the Prairiland Patriots with high hopes offensively.

By the time the final whistle sounded, the Red Raiders left T.A. Cotton Ford Stadium with a 21-6 win to advance to the area round of the playoffs next week.

"I thought in the first half we did some good things. We didn't take advantage of a couple of opportunities," said Winnsboro head coach Steve Pinnell. "In the second half, I didn't feel like we did a good job offensively and got a lot of holding penalties and things that put us in the hole.

"I thought Prairiland played well and did a good job against us and hats off to those guys. I didn't feel like we played as well as we should have in the second half, but we will take it and anytime you can come out with a win in the playoffs, we will take it."

The Red Raiders (10-1) will face the Farmersville Fighting Farmers (9-2), who defeated Pottsboro 42-14 on Friday night in the next round. The time and place are to be determined.

"I don't know a lot about them except for they are a really good football team and we are going to have to play a lot better than we did tonight," Pinnell said of Farmersville. "We are looking forward to it and are still glad to be alive and hopefully we will play better next week and get a victory."

On Winnsboro's opening drive of the game, the Red Raiders took control with their potent wishbone offense as they marched 52 yards in seven plays as junior quarterback Sean Ditto plunged his way into the end zone for the 7-0 lead with 6:15 remaining in the opening quarter. Felipe Rodriguez booted his first of three PATs good.

After a three-and-out by the Patriots on their next drive, WHS took possession in Prairiland territory on the 46-yard line, and six plays later tailback Chaz Baxter scored his first of two touchdowns in the half from three yards out for the 14-0 lead.

Following a punt by Prairiland on their next drive, the Red Raiders opened up the second quarter with another big drive as Baxter scored his second touchdown from 27 yards out for the 21-0 lead with 9:53 remaining in the half. During the drive, Zack Allen had a 40-yard scamper on third-and-1 to keep the drive alive.

The Patriots defense was able to hold Winnsboro on downs on three possessions during the game and gave up 295 yards of total offense with 279 yards coming on the ground. They averaged 5.9 yards on the ground in their wishbone offense.

"They did a lot of good things stopping it," the coach said. "On top of that, we had two touchdowns called back on things that we did and we should have had at least 35 points on the board. I thought they did a good job scheming against what we were doing. That is why you play the game and we did enough good things to get the job done and we get to move on."

The Patriots put together their best drive of the game late in the third quarter as they held Winnsboro on fourth-and-4 at their own 15-yard line.

With 2:51 remaining in the third quarter, PHS went on a 19-play, 89-yard drive in which they converted three fourth-down situations as sophomore Randal Sessums scored from a yard out for the 21-6 deficit. The Patriots went for two but were stopped short of the goal line.

Winnsboro was led by junior running back Zack Allen, who had eight carries for 101 yards, while Ditto had 17 carries for 61 yards and Baxter had five carries for 56 yards and two touchdowns.

For Prairiland, Tim Henry had 14 carries for 70 yards, while quarterback Landon Syrus went 3-for-5 for 25 yards and one interception as starting quarterback Dayne Sessums was out with an injury.

Notes: The Quitman Bulldogs (8-2) will face off against Paris Chisum (6-4) at Cotton Ford Stadium tonight, while Grand Saline (4-6) will take on DeKalb (6-4) at Gladewater. Both games are scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m. ... The winner of the Quitman and Paris Chisum game will face or Gunter (11-0) in the area round, while the winner of DeKalb and Grand Saline will face Melissa (9-2) next week. Gunter defeated Aubrey 24-14, while Melissa defeated Whitewright 49-35 Friday night.

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