New Diana Outlasts Winona For 47-42 Bi-District Win
LONGVIEW -- For the first time in two decades, the New Diana Eagles were able to celebrate a win in the playoffs.
Jackson Sampson passed for six touchdowns to lead New Diana past Winona, 47-42, Thursday night in their Class 3A Division II bi-district playoff at Spring Hill's Panther Stadium.
New Diana (8-3), which went winless just two seasons ago, is now bound for the area round. The Eagles will face either Leonard or Nocona next Friday night at a time and site to be determined.
“I’m proud of our guys because the effort was there, and the execution sometimes was not," said New Diana coach Robbie Coplin. "But we’ve got to be happy that we won our first playoff game; it’s been a long time since that’s happened in Diana. We’re gonna celebrate this tonight.”
New Diana had its fair share of struggles throughout, especially on defense, but Allan Brown's interception with less than a minute remaining sealed the Eagles' win.
“At our standards we played a little sloppy tonight," Coplin said. "We did some things that were uncharacteristic of ourselves that kinda cost us some points, especially in the first half. One thing we have to do is make sure we fix those mistakes next week. We’ve got to play better and clean things up.”
Sampson, the East Texas area leader in passing, lit Winona (4-7) up for 381 yards on 26 of 38 completions. He tossed three touchdowns in each half, and his 31-yarder to TJ Rogers on fourth down ballooned New Diana's lead to 47-35 with 2:50 remaining.
“He definitely made a lot of plays," Coplin said of Sampson. "He’s an amazing player and he deserves any accolades he gets.”
Rogers was Sampson's go-to guy in the second half. He finished with eight catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns, with 132 yards and both scores coming after halftime.
“He’s our best receiver, and we needed our big-time players to make plays in this game," Coplin said of Rogers. "We knew that he could make some plays for us, so we did that down the stretch.”
Cody Payton added six catches for 158 yards and two first-half touchdowns. Cole Willeford had two scoring receptions as well.
Winona had a big night offensively with 446 yards of offense, but committed 22 penalties for 196 yards, costing the Wildcats numerous times.
Wildcats running back Quindarius Johnson had 138 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. Quarterback Keenan Crawford threw for 196 yards with a touchdown, and KJ Kincade added a touchdown pass.
Dakota Pullum had 127 yards receiving with a pair of touchdowns, and returned an interception 80 yards for a score as well in the losing effort.
Pullum's 16-yard touchdown catch cut Winona's deficit to 47-42 with 1:32 to play. New Diana then recovered the onside kick, but quickly went three-and-out, giving Winona one last chance with 55 seconds to play.
Brown's interception on the second play of Winona's drive put an end to the drama.
Sampson connected with Payton twice in the first quarter on touchdown passes of 68 and 9 yards to give New Diana a 14-0 lead.
Kincade, who split time with Crawford at quarterback for Winona, then hit Pullum across the middle for a 68-yard touchdown, which cut the Eagles' lead to 14-7 early in the second quarter.
New Diana answered back moments later when Sampson found Willeford from 8 yards, and led 21-7 at halftime.
On the first drive of the second half, Pullum made a one-handed snag of a Sampson pass and returned the pick 80 yards to bring Winona closer, 21-14.
Following an Aaron Jahr 2-yard scoring run, Crawford brought back a pooch kick 53 yards for a touchdown, cutting New Diana's lead to 27-21.
The teams traded scores to finish off the third. Rogers hauled in a 25-yard touchdown from Sampson, and Johnson broke free for a 25-yard touchdown run, leaving Winona trailing 33-28 heading to the fourth.
Sampson avoided a sack and hit Payton for a 24-yard gain on third-and-long to the Winona 2, and Willeford snagged a touchdown on the next play to bring New Diana's lead back to two scores, 40-28..
On the ensuing Wildcats possession, Crawford spun out of trouble and hit Pablo Tarango for 46 yards down to the New Diana 1, which set up Johnson's scoring run one play later, as Winona trailed 40-35.
“These seniors, when they were sophomores they went 0-10, and I don’t know if they had very many games that were even close," Coplin said. "To go as far as what we have so far and for these guys to accomplish what they’ve accomplished it’s a big feat in itself. All the credit goes to them.”
New Diana 47, Winona 42
Class 3A Division II
Region II Bi-District Playoff
At Panther Stadium, Longview
Winona 0 7 21 14 -- 42
New Diana 14 7 12 14 -- 47
ND--Cody Payton 68 pass from Jackson Sampson (kick failed), 3:47.
ND--Payton 9 pass from Sampson (Payton pass from Sampson), :09.
WIN--Dakota Pullum 66 pass from KJ Kincade (Pablo Tarango kick), 7:09.
ND--Cole Willeford 8 pass from Sampson (Andy Prazak kick), 6:42.
WIN--Pullum 80 interception return (Tarango kick), 11:13.
ND--Aron Jahr 2 run (kick failed), 8:05.
WIN--Keenan Crawford 53 kickoff return (Tarango kick), 8:00.
ND--TJ Rogers 25 pass from Sampson (run failed), 2:34.
WIN--Quindarius Johnson 25 run (Tarango kick), 1:59.
ND--Willeford 2 pass from Sampson (Prazak kick), 11:24.
WIN--Johnson 1 run (Tarango kick), 6:31.
ND--Rogers 31 pass from Sampson (Prazak kick), 2:50.
WIN--Pullum 16 pass from Crawford (Tarango kick), 1:23.
First Downs 16 25
Total Yards 446 497
Rushes-Yards 40-174 30-116
Passing Yards 272 381
Comp.-Att.-Int. 14-22-1 26-38-2
Punts-Avg. 3-36.7 3-37.7
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 2-0
Penalties-Yards 22-196 11-72
RUSHING--Winona, Quindarius Johnson 17-138, Keenan Crawford 11-49, Zach Bradford 4-2, KJ Kincade 8-(-15). New Diana, Aron Jahr 7-68, Zane Freeman 9-22, Cole Willeford 3-15, Cody Payton 2-10, Marquice Wilkerson 2-7, Jackson Sampson 7-(-6).
PASSING--Winona, Crawford 11-18-1--196, Kincade 3-4-0--76. New Diana, Sampson 26-38-2--381.
RECEIVING--Winona, Dakota Pullum 7-127, Johnson 3-35, Kincade 2-61, Pablo Tarango 2-49. New Diana, TJ Rogers 8-147, Payton 6-158, Freeman 3-20, Willeford 3-8, Wilkerson 2-25, Brayden Rosales 2-22, Dennis Drennon 2-3.