By Mack Gordon
WATER VALLEY – The Blue Devils (5-1) hosted the Winona Tigers (6-0) last Friday night on one of the most anticipated matchups in 3A football this season. Both squads entered the matchup undefeated and both look to be contenders in 3A post-season play this season.
The Blue Devils held the lead for much of the contest, despite falling behind early in the first quarter. Winona would take the lead late, and a couple of late turnovers would hinder the Blue Devils chances of driving to win the game. Winona would hold on by one single point, earning the hard fought 21-20 victory.
Winona would strike first on an eight-yard touchdown run by Andarius Coffee, giving the Tigers an early 7-0 lead with 7:59 left in the first quarter. Water Valley would answer later in the first, as Jacob Truss found the endzone from four yards out to tie the game up at 7-7 with 2:21 left in the first quarter.
After the initial Winona score, the Blue Devil defense would settle in and hold the Tigers scoreless for the remainder of the first half. Water Valley would take the lead on their next offensive possession, as Blayne Clark found Jacob Welch in the corner of the endzone on a 9 yard touchdown pass.
Water Valley would carry a 14-7 lead into the locker room at halftime, thanks some solid defense.
The Blue Devils offense wouldn’t take long to strike in the second half, as Clark hit Bud Tolbert on a nice 32 yard touchdown strike to extend the Water Valley lead to 20-7 with 7:25 left in the third quarter, as the pat was no good.
Winona would respond with a much needed answer, as Coffee scored on a 15-yard touchdown run. The score brought Winona back within one score, as Water Valley led 20-14 with 4:19 left in the third quarter.
Winona would take the lead on their next possession, with a long methodical drive that ended in one yard touchdown run from Jalen Campbell. The score would put the Tigers up 21-20 with 8:58 left in the ballgame.
The Water Valley offense would have three possessions in the final 8:58, all three possessions would end in a turnover, allowing Winona to salvage the 21-20 victory in physical contest between a couple 3A contenders.
The two teams could meet again this season, if both make it all the way to the 3A State Championship game in Hattiesburg.
The Blue Devils will be back in action this Friday night, traveling to Holly Springs to take on the Holly Springs Hawks (5-1) in the first division contest of the season for Water Valley.