Homecoming Queen Betsy Carson Hatcher and her court brought beauty and charm to Patriot Field last Friday night, as her Winston Patriots brought gloom and doom to the visiting Winona Christian Stars.
Under clear skies on a crisp fall night, the overflow crowd saw the Patriots win with ease as they improved their record to 2-3 for the season. In a game that finished under a running clock due to a 35-0 lead early in the third quarter, the Patriots had many players to see playing action.
Winston got on the board on their first possession when J.R. Coleman took it over from 15 yards out with 8:42 remaining in the opener with the PAT failing. After a Winona punt, the Patriots then threatened after a 45-yard run to near the goal line, but the runner was stripped of the ball, resulting in a touchback.
A following Stars punt set up the Patriots second score when Jett Joiner connected with J.T. McGinnis on a 60-yard pass for the score, followed by a 2-point conversion pass to Will Thompson to increase their lead to 14-0. Both teams then went through punting exchanges to each other until 6:12 remaining before halftime. It was then that Joiner scored on his own from the 8-yard line with Reed Yates adding the PAT to increase the Patriot lead to 21-0. A stalled Stars drive deep in their own territory and set up the final score in the first half when Jett Joiner connected with McGinnis again on a 40-yard strike with Yates's PAT sending the teams into halftime with the Patriots on top 28-0.
After the charming homecoming activities, the Patriots came out to start the second half and instantly scored when Cole Haab broke several tackles and raced 21 yards for the score. Yates's important PAT then sent the game into a running clock situation with the 35-6 lead. It was then all Patriots to close the homecoming game at Winston Academy.
WA more complete against Winona Christian
By Robbie Faulk
After the first couple of weeks of disappointment, perhaps something has clicked with the Winston Academy Patriots.
WA lost handily to Leake Academy and Canton Academy to start the season but were in position to win the game against a much larger Class 6A school in Jackson Academy. That overtime loss led to a 28-7 win over Central Holmes and, last week, a 35-6 blowout over Winona Christian.
It could be a turning-the-corner moment for a team that is looking to build on the success of back-to-back playoff berths. Against the Stars, it was the most complete performance of the year for WA.
“I thought we played well. We scored four (touchdowns) in the first half and should have been five. I think they had 18 yards at halftime, and we had 250,” head coach Pat Byrd said. “We got our young guys in there, and they got to play a lot of minutes. If we can run the football for over 150, I think that gives us a good chance to be in the football game. Defensively, we’re getting in a rhythm. We’re making them earn it.”
It's been a 2-3 start to the year, but the Patriots have a chance to take a major step on Friday night.
The Starkville Academy Volunteers are coming to town for a rivalry game that is separated by just about 30 miles. The Vols have also played a tough schedule having beaten Lamar School, Leake Academy, French Camp Academy, and Trinity Collegiate in South Carolina in a ball game played in Georgia.
What was most impressive to Byrd might have been the two losses that the 4-2 Vols had. Against Jackson Academy and Heritage Academy, SA was down by 14 points and 28 points respectively. The team came back and sent the game to overtime with a rally in the fourth quarter against JA and last week against Heritage. The Vols got to within seven points before the Patriots won 31-21.
“They’ve got some good athletes out there, and they’re effective with what they do. On defense, they run to the football and tackle well,” Byrd said of the Vols. “They were down against Jackson Academy and Heritage and came back and made it a game both times. You have to be ready to play four quarters because they’re not going to quit. Chase (Nicholson) does a good job, and he’s also sitting there with Tate Fisher, Bubba Davis, and Junior Graham on his staff so you know they’re going to be well-coached. We have a tough game ahead of us.”