Out-Ranked: Winnsboro continues its run through 16-2A

By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Oct. 28, 2007 - COMO - The Como-Pickton Eagles ran into a buzzsaw Friday night at Ron Heflin Field against the Winnsboro Red Raiders in District 16-2A action.

With a No. 7-ranking in the Harris Ratings coming into this week, the Red Raiders (7-1, 3-0) dominated the game with a 62-14 win over the Eagles to hold on to a tie for first place with the Quitman Bulldogs.

"They are one of the best teams in Class 2A right now," Como-Pickton first-year coach Paul Tullis said. "I think they are ranked No. 7 in the state and we are right down at the bottom. Defensively, I knew that we were going to struggle a lot and we were going to have a hard time from keeping them scoring.

"Offensively, we went out there and moved the ball and probably did some things that they weren't expecting us to do tonight."

The Eagles, meanwhile, dropped to 3-5 on the year and 0-3 in district play with a matchup against the Alba-Golden Panthers (2-6, 0-3) next Friday night in Alba. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

With only two games remaining in the regular season, the Eagles face Alba-Golden and Grand Saline and are only two games back of the third place Indians in the standings.

"We need to go out and win these last two games. I think if we can these last two, then I feel like we have a good chance of getting in the playoffs," Tullis said. "Alba-Golden is still going to have to beat Hawkins and if they can do that and we can win the last two, then I think we will be all right and have a chance to get in the playoffs. "

The Red Raiders used their full-house backfield heavily as they rushed for 361 yards on 28 carries (a 12.9-yard average) as junior signal-caller Sean Ditto did not throw one pass in the game. He was the game's leading rusher with nine carries for 124 yards and four touchdowns of 1, 37, 2 and 50 yards.

On their opening possession, the Red Raiders marched down the field on a six-play, 62-yard drive, capped by Ditto's 1-yard run. Winnsboro used a heavy dose of juniors Zack Allen and Josh Thacker and senior Tommy Evans on the drive.

After a four-play drive by the Eagles on their opening possession, WHS came back with a two-play drive as Ditto went 37 yards to paydirt for the 14-0 lead. Phillipe Rodriguez booted his second of eight PATs good.

On the ensuing kickoff, Como-Pickton senior fullback Mitch Lowe found a seam and went 85 yards for an apparent touchdown, but the play was called back due to an illegal block in the back by the Eagles. The kickoff return would have been the first of the season given up by Winnsboro.

With the ball placed on the Winnsboro 29-yard line, CPHS marched all the way to the end zone as Lowe powered his way in from 3- yards out for the 14-7 deficit with 4:17 remaining in the opening quarter. Noe Tellez kicked his first of two PATs.

"Our offensive line came out strong tonight and I think we took advantage of some things," Tullis said. "They are so fast, aggressive and physical on defense and we took advantage of that with our option stuff, and I think the kids played really hard out there."

Winnsboro put together a seven-play, 58-yard drive as Thacker scored from 23 yards out for a 21-7 lead heading into the second quarter.

After a 21-point first quarter, the Red Raiders countered with a 20-point second quarter as Tommy Evans burst through the CPHS defense with a 41-yard scamper to paydirt. He later scored on a 3-yard run for the final score of the first half.

With the Eagles having a tough time getting the running game going, senior Aaron Kramer had one of the best games of his career receiving wise as he caught nine passes for 101 yards and one touchdown. His touchdown came on a 16-yard, over-the-shoulder grab from Austin Darby for a 28-14 deficit with 6:14 remaining in the half.

"Aaron did a good job and I think Austin threw the ball better tonight than he has all year long," Tullis said. "They weren't covering Aaron and they were trying to protect the run from us so we were just going to take it."

The Winnsboro defense gave up 2.2 yards per rush (37-for-80 yards), as Kramer was finding a seam throughout the game and averaged 11.2 yards per catch. Darby went 10-of-18 for 127 yards and one touchdown for the Eagles.

Winnsboro answered the Eagles' touchdown drive with a three-play, 25-yard drive as Ditto scored his third touchdown of the first half on a 2-yard run for the 34-14 lead.

After Evans touchdown gave Winnsboro a 41-14 lead at the intermission, the Red Raiders came back with Ditto's fourth touchdown run of 50 yards down the Winnsboro sideline. Winnsboro's Blake Bennett stepped in front of a Darby pass on the Eagles' next possession and went 78 yards untouched for the touchdown.

With 3:14 remaining in the contest, Winnsboro backup quarterback Jordan Massey scored on a 45-yard touchdown run for the 62-14 finale.

Como-Pickton sophomore tailback James Carter led the way for the Eagles with 10 carries for 36 yards, while Lowe finished the night with 16 carries for 30 yards and one touchdown.

Notes: In other games around the district, Grand Saline defeated Alba-Golden 30-28, while Quitman remained undefeated in district with a 55-6 win over Hawkins. ... Quitman (7-1, 3-0) will travel to Grand Saline (3-5, 2-1) Friday night, while Hawkins (2-6, 1-2) will travel to Winnsboro. Kickoff for both games is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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