By Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel
WINONA – In a game that matched big plays against a ground game, it was the big plays of the Winona Tigers and quarterback Nick Glover that made the difference in their MHSAA Class 3A opening round game against the Ripley Tigers.
Glover was 8 for 11 for 254 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another as Winona defeated Ripley 35-21 to advance to the second round. Glover connected on TD passes of 69 and 45 yards in the first half and added a 63 yard TD pass and a 5-yard TD run in the second half.
Despite the air assault, Winona coach Ken Chandler, who saw his team outgain Ripley 445-359 in total offense, said his is not a passing a team.
“We’re not a throwing team, but we noticed on film that Booneville and Kossuth had success with the pass and I got a couple of guys that can run well on the sides,” said Chandler. “That helped us open it up a little bit for our running back.”
Winona running back Patrick Purnell contributed 146 yards on 22 carries and one score. His 1-yard run with 9:08 to play in the second quarter gave the home team a 14-7 lead.
Both teams went over 200 total yards as they played to 21-14 halftime edge for Winona.
Ripley running back Isaac Bails started the scoring with a 7 yard run that capped a 61-yard drive by Ripley to start the game. Bails finished the night with a game-high 154 yards and two scores. He caught a 9 yard pass from Cody James to tie the game at 14 with 3:01 before halftime.
Ripley tied the game at 21 with a 20-yard TD run by James in the third quarter, but turnovers on their final three possessions – two interceptions and one fumble – spoiled the comeback threat. James finished with 116 yards rushing.
“We hadn’t put a whole game together all year,” said Ripley assistant Quess Hood. “Our offense played well enough to win it in the first half and our defense played well enough to win it in the second half. You hate it or the seniors but we just came up short.”