GILMER -- Sabine had made school history by making the football playoffs for the first time since 1985. Winnsboro made sure it was short-lived Thursday night.

Ethan Rakich racked up nearly 300 total yards of offense and Winnsboro withstood a second-half rally from Sabine to beat the Cardinals, 28-17, in their Class 3A Division I bi-district game at Buckeye Stadium.

Tyler Mustin led Sabine on the ground against Winnsboro with 105 yards on 13 carries. (Mark Martin,

Rakich ran for 219 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries and helped lead a backbreaking 12-play drive in the fourth quarter to send the Red Raiders (8-3) to the area round, where they'll face the Sunnyvale-Whitesboro winner. Those two play at 7:30 p.m. Friday (Nov. 14) in Rockwall.

Rakich played a key role in squashing Sabine's momentum -- twice.

Ethan Rakich, shown here running for a 69-yard touchdown, accounted for 219 yards on the ground and caught two passes for 66 yards against Sabine on Thursday night. (Mark Martin,

Sabine (6-5) rallied in the third quarter after being down 21-7 at halftime, blanking Winnsboro defensively while Sharp threw a 19-yard touchdown to Tevin Roberts and followed with a 29-yard field goal to cut the Red Raiders' lead to four, 21-17, with 4:30 left in the third quarter.

But early in the fourth quarter after a Sabine punt, Rakich accounted for 25 yards on the ground as Winnsboro went 56 yards in 12

Sabine receiver Tevin Roberts hauls in a Tanner Sharp pass before going into the end zone for a touchdown against Winnsboro on Thursday night. (Mark Martin,

plays, a six-minute drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown run from quarterback Tanner Pinnell to seal the win.

"They answered, which is what a good team is gonna do," said Sabine coach Mark Comfort, whose team lost to Winnsboro 23-20 in overtime earlier this season. "They answered, and we weren't able to come back and answer again. Obviously that really hurt us."

Winnsboro running back Marcus Tucker heads upfield against Sabine on Thursday night in Gilmer. (Mark Martin,

On its next drive, Sabine opted to punt on fourth-and-10 from its own 29 with 4:22 left in the game. The Cardinals got the ball back after Winnsboro managed to run eight plays, but time wasn't on their side at that point and the hopes of their first playoff win in school history were defeated.

"I hope the foundation has been laid for this program. It's the first time in a long time since a Sabine team has been here," Comfort said.

Sabine quarterback Tanner Sharp, shown rolling out for a pass, ran for a touchdown, threw a touchdown and kicked a field goal to help account for all of the Cardinals' points against Winnsboro. (Mark Martin,

"They're catching on to the philosophy of the program, and when you've got good leaders like we had this year, good things are going to happen to you and good things happened to us this year."

Winnsboro's ball control was crucial to its win. the Red Raiders ran 58 plays to Sabine's 46 and needed to pass just four times. Rakich also caught two balls for 66 yards in addition to his 219 yards on the ground. Tedrick Shepherd, who opened the scoring with a 54-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter, ran for 85 yards on nine carries.

Tyler Mustin led Sabine on the ground with 105 yards on 13 carries. Sharp was 8 of 15 passing for 84 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Sabine almost found itself in a huge hole early. After falling behind 14-0 on Pinnell's first of two 1-yard touchdown runs, Sabine had a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown called back for holding.

The Cardinals then had a 32-yard catch negated by a penalty, only to see a long run on the next play called back for holding. But facing a fourth-and-20 at its own 52, Sabine went for the fake punt and Oshean Jagot took the ball 55 yards to the Winnsboro 3. Sharp punched it in for a 1-yard touchdown three plays later to cut Winnsboro's lead to 14-7.

But then came Rakich the spoiler again.

Almost 90 seconds after Sabine got within 14-7, Rakich took a handoff and bolted 69 yards to the end zone to put the Red Raiders up 21-7 entering the half.

Winnsboro 28, Sabine 17

Class 3A Division I Bi-District
At Buckeye Stadium, Gilmer 

Winnsboro           6     15       0       7  --  28
Sabine                 0       7     10       0  --  17
First Quarter
WIN--Tedrick Shepherd 54 run (Julio Olivarria kick failed), 5:25
Second Quarter
WIN--Lucas Pinnell 1 run (Shepherd run), 11:56
SAB--Tanner Sharp 1 run (Sharp kick), 7:45
WIN--Ethan Rakich 69 run (Olivarria kick), 6:16
Third Quarter
SAB--Tevin Roberts 19 pass from Sharp (Sharp kick), 9:54
SAB--Sharp 29 FG, 4:30
Fourth Quarter
WIN--Pinnell 1 run (Olivarria kick), 4:36

                                     WIN          SAB
First Downs                  17              12
Total Yards                   454            263
Rushes-Yards              54-374        31-179
Passing Yards              80               84
Comp.-Att.-Int.             3-4-0          8-15-1
Punts-Avg.                   1-25.0        3-32.9
Fumbles-Lost               1-0             1-0
Penalties-Yards            3-30            3-35


RUSHING--Winnsboro, Ethan Rakich 25-219, Tedrick Shepherd 9-85, Marcus Tucker 5-36, Lucas Pinnell 10-19, Tarik Castleberry 3-8, Jeremy Moses 2-3. Sabine, Tyler Mustin 13-105, Oshean Jagot 1-55, Conner Sharp 7-21, Tevin Roberts 5-4, Glenn George 1-2, Cody Sauce 3-(-4), Kade Taylor 1-(-4).
PASSING--Winnsboro, Pinnell 3-4-0--80. Sabine, Sharp 8-15-1--84.
RECEIVING--Winnsboro, Rakich 2-66, Moses 1-14. Sabine, Sauce 3-35, Jagot 2-22, Roberts 2-18, Ty Cundieff 1-9.

Sabine coach Mark Comfort led the Cardinals to their first playoff appearance since 1985. The Cardinals, who lost to Winnsboro 28-17 on Thursday, are still looking for their first playoff win in school history.