Wharton too much for Yoakum in turnover-filled game
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Wharton running back Alfred Pinkney was too determined to think about being tired and has too much desire to consider losing.
Pinkney carried a career-high 40 times for 153 yards and two touchdowns to lead Wharton to a 48-34 Class 3A, Division II bi-district win over Yoakum on Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.
"It was very hard," Pinkney said. "We just came together as a team and pushed through it."
The Tigers improved to 8-3 and moved into the area playoffs against Navarro. The game has been scheduled for Saturday at 6 p.m. at New Braunfels Canyon.
Wharton jumped out to a 28-0 lead and fought off numerous comeback attempts by the Bulldogs, who ended the season at 6-5.
"The kids came out and we got out to a 28-0 lead," said Wharton coach Tim Finn. "I can't hardly remember. It seems like two days ago. I think we missed some scoring chances in the first half and you see what kind of explosive team they are. They're a very good football team and they made us pay for not scoring a few times."
Wharton relied on the running of Pinkney and the passing of quarterback Bartee Grissom, who returned after missing two games with an ankle injury.
Grissom passed for 267 yards, including a 6-yard completion to Leeshad O'Neal on a fourth-and-five attempt from the Yoakum 16 after the Bulldogs had pulled within 41-34 in the fourth quarter.
"He threw the ball well and we had some big conversions in the passing game," Finn said of Grissom. "O'Neal caught huge first downs as well. The offense played outstanding tonight and picked us up after that first half."
Wharton's Ramon Frazier had two fumble recoveries from his linebacker position and also carried five times, scoring three touchdowns and getting a critical first down in the fourth quarter.
Yoakum battled back behind the running of Myron Hights, who rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Tra'vontae Hights, who scored on a 97-yard touchdown run after Keith Ratley had intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter.
"As I told them at halftime, everything that could have gone wrong went wrong in the first half," said Yoakum coach Brent Kornegay. "That's just a credit to our kids and how they came out and played. They're fighters. They've been fighters ever since we started."
Yoakum turned the ball over six times, including four interceptions and two fumbles. Wharton had four turnovers, including three interceptions and fumble. The Tigers were also penalized 11 times for 115 yards.
Wharton's Taylor Skinner helped seal the win with his second interception of the game. Pinkney and Grissom made sure Yoakum never got the ball again.
"It was scary, but you've just got to push way down inside and believe," Pinkney said. "To come out with a victory, you've just got to believe."