WHITEWRIGHT — The fight to stay in the playoffs was evident for the Whitewright Tigers. Not only did they have to win, but they needed help along the way.
Whitewright was able to take care of its part as Marshall Mangrum threw two passes and ran for another in the Tigers’ 34-14 victory against Prairiland to close out District 9-3A (I) play.
Then when Cooper lost to Bells and Chisum lost against Blue Ridge, Whitewright (5-5, 2-4) found itself in the three-way tie it needed to earn the district’s final playoff spot with a better point differential among the three teams.
The Tigers, who have won more games than the previous two seasons combined, will face Big Sandy Harmony in a Class 3A Division II Region II bi-district contest at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Sulphur Springs.
Mangrum completed 14-of-23 passes for 184 yards with touchdown throws to Kylan Watson and Aaron Pitt and ran 16 times for 161 yards and a score. Dylan Cordell ran for 110 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries while Pitt led the receivers with four catches for 83 yards and Watson finished with four receptions for 47 yards.
Prairiland (2-8, 1-5) was held scoreless after the first quarter and that allowed the Tigers to build a big lead. The Patriots managed just 159 yards with Connor Sessums completing 13-of-33 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.
Whitewright opened the scoring with a four-play drive that ended with an eight-yard touchdown pass by Mangrum to Watson. Xy-Rion Daniels caught the conversion pass.
Prairiland answered back starting from its 28. Sessums connected on three passes to Brooks Morrison and Chris Michael. Morrison ended up catching a 30-yard touchdown throw and the Patriots picked up the conversion to tie the game.
A fumble recovery deep in Whitewright territory set Prairiland up to take the lead and the Patriots did on a one-yard run by Gavin Watts with 5:01 remaining in the first quarter.
The second quarter turned in Whitewright’s favor as the Tigers put three scores on the board to take the lead for good.
Mangrum started the quarter with a four-yard touchdown followed by Cordell scoring on a five-yard run.
With just over a minute to go in the half, Mangrum connected with Pitt from the 13-yard line and a 27-14 advantage going into the locker room.
Prairiland’s attempt to rally was hampered by the lack of a running attack. Whitewright held the Patriots to 50 yards on 20 carries and 36 of that came on a single run.
Trevor McCartney padded the Tigers’ lead with a late 26-yard touchdown run.