GREENVILLE — The Leonard Tigers spend most of the night playing catch-up and the New Diana Eagles made the comeback tough with a near shutout as New Diana earned a 36-8 victory against Leonard in a Class 3A Division II Region II area round game at T.A. Ford Stadium on Friday night.


New Diana (9-3) advances to the region semifinals and will face Jacksboro at The Star in Frisco at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The winner would play the Gunter-Holliday winner in the region final.


The Tigers (7-5) got their only score when they first recovered a New Diana fumble at the Eagle 35. With 4:10 left in the contest, Ronnie Hart threw a 15-yard pass to Michael Schulze, then a seven-yarder to Byron Bolin.


Two plays later, Hart scored on a five-yard touchdown run. Hart then ran for the two-point conversion with three minutes remaining.


Hart completed 10-of-18 passes for 131 yards and ran 26 times for 93 yards. Bolin finished with four catches for 81 yards.


Leonard had 233 yards, including 110 on 36 carries


Early in the first period, the Eagles drove 76 yards ending with a two-yard run by Aron Jahr. The conversion pass failed with 7:27 left in the first quarter.


It stayed that way until Zane Freeman scored at the 7:49 mark of the second quarter for New Diana with an eight-yard run and the Eagles led 13-0 after making the extra point.


On the Eagles’ next possession, the Tigers came through with a goal-line stand stopping the possession just short of the goal line. But on the next play New Diana made a tackle in the end zone for a safety and a 15-0 advantage with just under four minutes left in the half.


New Diana took a 22-0 lead into intermission when Cole Willeford scored on a three-yard run with just under two minutes left in the second quarter.


The Eagles’ next TD came on a 54-yard pass from Jackson Sampson to Cody Payton with 7:05 remaining in the third quarter.


Three minutes later Sampson connected with Payton on a 23-yard TD pass to make it a 36-0 lead.


Sampson completed 15-of-25 passes for 201 yards with Payton making six receptions for 109 yards. New Diana finished with 421 yards.