Lions dominate Eagles to advance to quarterfinals

Rodrick Anderson
The Vinton Lions celebrate after thwir 41-14 win over Rosepine on Friday in the Class 2A regional playoffs. With the win, Vinton advances to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006. They will play No. 2 Winnfield on Friday on the road.

VINTON –– The Vinton Lions led by just seven points but there was really never any question who was in control of the game. The No. 7 Lions scored 27 points in the second half as they routed No. 10 Rosepine 41-14 on Friday at B.S. Walker Stadium in the Class 2A regional playoffs.

The win is momentous for a program that had won just nine games in the previous four seasons and now stands 10-2.

"For the program it is just a big win for the kids and the community," Vinton head coach Tarius Davis said holding back tears. "I really don't have the words to express it.

"Coming from where we have been the last several years to being in the quarterfinals is just a great job. I have to give the credit to the kids and the assistant coaches. We come here and work every day and the kids work hard. They believe in us, trust in us and follow our lead. That is why we are here today."

Vinton will travel north on Friday to face No. 2 Winnfield in their first quarterfinal game since 2006. Winnfield beat No. 15 G.W. Carver 35-18 on Friday.

"It feels really good to be in the quarterfinals," junior wide receiver/safety Anfernee Dixon said. "It has not been done in a long time and we are looking to go further."

The loss ends the Eagles drive for their first quarterfinal appearance in program history. They have lost in the regional round three straight years.

The Lions defensive front almost completely shutdown the Eagles run game that had averaged 281 yards in their previous seven games. Rosepine gained just 133 yards on the ground and just to carries over 13 yards. Tailback Stanley Hogan was held to just 87 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown with 39 yards coming on a single run late in the fourth quarter.

"We challenged them," Davis said. "Any time a team is going to come up and basically say 'here we come, we are running, what are you going to do'; we had to challenge our guys because that is their (Rosepine) style and they were not going to change.

"We played well defensively up front, it caused some pressure and we were able to create some turnovers again tonight. Our defense played awesome. They played lights-out. For four quarters we bowed up and played."

Dixon along with junior tailback James McMillon were unstable on Friday accounting for four of the Lions six touchdowns. McMillon rushed for over 100 yards four the fifth consecutive week and scored three times on the ground with 114 yards on 17 carries. He also threw a halfback pass to Dixon for a 41-yard touchdown at the end of the first quarter. Dixon intercepted three passes to bring his season total to 12 and caught two passes for 47 yards.

"Those two juniors are really big playmakers in our program," Davis said. "We found a way to get James involved and Anfernee has just kind of been Anfernee.

"I think that brings him to 12 interceptions on the year. If you intercept the ball 12 times it doesn't matter what level you play at, that is a pretty good accomplishment. He is definitely a ball-hawk at safety. I can't say enough about them. The good thing about it is that they are coming back next year and they ought to be bigger and better."

Dixon first interception of the night killed a potential game-tying drive with 42 seconds left in the first half with the Eagles on the Lions' 26-yard line.

One of the few bright spots for the Eagles came with 4:37 left in the second quarter when Eric Kyle threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Trevor Russell. Daniel Welborn scored on a two-yard run with 37 seconds left in the fourth quarter for the Eagles only other score. Kyle completed 5-of-15 passes for 94 yards.

Not even a minute into the second half, Vinton went up 21-7 when junior quarterback Tanner Guidry connected with Anthone Hillery on a 58-yard touchdown pass. Dixon's second interception of the game set up a seven-yard touchdown by McMillon midway through the third quarter.

Vinton scored twice in the fourth quarter on a 43-yard run by McMillon and a one-yard quarterback keeper by Guidry. Guidry completed 6-of-13 passes for 86 yards in his fifth consecutive game without an interception.