Longview, Texas

      The Tatum Eagles (8-1) defeated the Winnsboro Red Raiders (7-3) in the Bi-District Round 37-28. The game was tied at seven after one. Tatum led 21-13 at the half and 28-21 after three. Tatum Coach Jason Holman liked the effort. “I was very proud of how hard our kids played. We knew it was going to be a four-quarter fight and the kids were up for it,” he added

      The Eagles took the opening kickoff and starting at their 32, went the distance in four plays. It started with a QB Kendrick Malone to WR Decartiyay Allison pass of 27 and ended with Malone hitting Allison with a bomb from 42 yards out. Omar Rodriguez converted the PAT and Tatum led 7-0.

      Winnsboro would answer. The Raiders marched 86 yards in 14 plays capped with an RB Dominique Allen sweep of the left end from 31 yards away. Jonathan Marquez added the PAT and the game was tied at seven. The drive took over nine minutes off the clock. Tatum adjustments?

 Coach Holman stated, “The biggest adjustments made were us catching up to the speed of the game. With the type of offense Winnsboro runs, it's hard to simulate their pace during practice. I thought we settled in after the first drive and played better.”

      The teams then exchanged turnovers. The Eagles lost a fumble after driving from their 10 to Raider 49. After driving from the Eagle 44 to the 25, the Raiders then suffered a pick by Tatum’s Dalone Fuller who returned the ball to the Eagle 41. Holman stated, “Defensively, Dalone Fuller had another big game with 14 tackles, 1 PBU, and 1 Interception.” 

      After the INT, Tatum marched 59 yards in nine plays. RB Daymien Smith rushed for 15 and RB Ty Hollins took it home from 12 yards out. At the 4:27 mark of the second, Tatum 14-7.  

      Following a long KO return and a penalty, Winnsboro would promptly answer as Allen scored again from three yards out. The PAT was blocked by Dexter Monroe and the Eagles still led by one 14-13. 

      The Eagles would add another score before band time as Malone weaved his way for seven. The drive was highlighted by a Malone to Allison pass, catch and run converting a third and 17. The Omar Rodriguez PAT was true and the Eagles took a 21-13 lead into intermission.

      Tatum kicked onside to start the third, but the Raiders pounced on it and started at their own 47. They drove to the Eagle 11 and faced a fourth and two. Allen was caught in the backfield for a loss of six and Tatum took over. “Trey Fite played well for us defensively and made some huge plays at key moments, such as the 4th down stop to start the 2nd half,” stated Holman. This was huge as the Eagles then marched and scored to go up by 15. 

      Starting at the Eagle 17, Tatum went 83 yards in seven plays, overcoming a fumble that they recovered and aided by a 15-yard personal foul penalty. Again, Malone weaved through the defense for eight for the touch. With the Rodriguez PAT, Tatum led 28-13. 

      Winnsboro did not quit. Kyd Cole went over from a yard out and then Allen found Cole Graves on a jump pass for the two-point conversion and with 35 ticks left in the third. Tatum 28-21.

      Tatum quickly answered as Malone scored his third of the night going over from 11 cappings a 66 yard, seven-play drive. The try was muffed and Tatum led 34-21 and the Raiders still had hope. They finally got on the board again at the 2:22 mark to cut the lead to six, but that was as close as they would come as Tatum tacked on a Rodriguez 24 yard field goal with 15 seconds left to seal the victory. 

      Holman on the offense: “Offensively, we dominated the line of scrimmage and had another 300+ yds rushing. That allowed us to control the clock and sustain drives. Kendric Malone did a great job of managing the offense and made some really good throws at clutch moments,” he added. 

      The Eagles play Friday night in Athens in the Area round against Grandview. Grandview was scheduled to play Teague in the Bi-District round but a Covid 19 outbreak at Teague forced their forfeit. Coach Holman looks ahead. “Grandview is, of course, the 2-time defending State Champions, so we have a huge challenge in front of us. They are big, physical, and have a good QB who also starts on defense at Safety. The QB, in fact, was named offensive and defensive MVP last year! He is a gamer and he is what makes them tick. They have a really physical defensive line that will challenge us upfront. Most notably is their 6'9 DE! But honestly, their nose guard is their best defensive player. They have the experience edge and have played a lot of football over the last several years. But, I don't think they have faced an opponent that is quite as talented as we are. If we can get off the field defensively, and take care of the ball on offense, I feel like we will be in a great position to win,” he stated. 

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