By JOHNNY McKINNEY
The Leonard Tigers made school history on Saturday with a 55-44 Class 2A Division II regional football playoff victory over S&S Consolidated.
The 10-3 Tigers avenged a 19-16 loss to S&S a couple of weeks ago and advanced to the fourth round of the playoffs for the first time, where they’ll face 13-0 Cooper at 2 p.m. Saturday in Wylie.
“We played physical today and made big plays,” said Leonard coach Shane Fletcher.
Justin Bennett threw for 235 yards and three touchdowns, Dylan Monck accounted for four scores, Ty McKinney one and Solomon Titus rushed for 125 yards to lead the Tigers.
It took Leonard only five plays to get on the board. Bennett threw a 35-yard pass to McKinney to set up a Titus 40-yard scoring run. McKinney kicked his first of five extra points to give Leonard 7-0 lead with 9:38 remaining in the first quarter.
S&S answered when Trenton Nolan returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a score.
Leonard countered next when Bennett connected with Monck on a 64-yard scoring strike.
The Rams next drove 61 yards, ending with a Willie Winborne 17-yard TD run as S&S tied the score at 14-all at the 4:19 mark of the first period.
McKinney was on the receiving end of a 30-yard aerial from Bennett for the next Tiger score. Nolan returned the blocked extra point all the way for two points.
Leonard’s Cody Crain intercepted a Ram pass at the 42-yard line. Bennett threw a 47-yard scoring strike to Titus. Monck ran for the two extra points to give the Tigers 28-16 lead with 55 seconds left before intermission.
Three minutes into the third period S&S quarterback Reed Collum threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Drew Dutton.
One minute later Bennett scored on a 10-yard run for Leonard.
A bad snap on a punt set the Tigers up at the Ram 19. Three plays later Monck plunged in from three yards as Leonard stretched its lead to 42-23 at the 3:36 mark of the third period.
A little over a minute later Winborne took it in from 26 yards.
Leonard extended its lead when Ryan Reed Nixon threw a 23-yard scoring pass to Monck.
Titus next returned a Ram pass for a touchdown. Leonard led 55-30 at this point.
Winborne took the following kickoff 92 yards for a score.
Nolan next threw a 5-yard scoring pass to Winborne.
Monck had five receptions for 117 yards and McKinney caught three passes for 81 and Titus three for 73.
“Our offensive line pass blocked great today,” said Tiger quarterback Bennett.
“We played well as a team,” said Nixon.
“It was a great team effort and the unity we’ve had all year showed up today,” said Tiger lineman Dylan Pelton.
S&S, the District 7-2A champion, finished the season at 12-1.