GREENVILLE - Mineola's defense answered the call on Friday and made sure the season continued as the No. 1 Yellowjackets held off upset-minded Whitesboro 21-15 in their Class 3A Division I area playoff at T.A. "Cotton" Ford Memorial Stadium.
Clinging to a six-point lead with 3:30 on the clock and needing to make a stop on fourth and short to clinch the victory, sophomore middle linebacker Michael Drennon put up a roadblock on Whitesboro fullback Preston Johnson. Drennon and Johnson slammed into each other with Drennon imposing his will and forcing Johnson out of bounds.
He needed to get three yards, but Drennon made sure he was a yard short.
"We just had to step it up," said Drennon, who also had a 44-yard touchdown reception. "It was crazy. The crowd was going, my adrenaline was going and I knew I had to get the stop on that fourth-down play."
Mineola (12-0) advances to face Callisburg, which defeated Harmony 41-8 in its area playoff win. That game is scheduled for 2 p.m. Nov. 28 at Royse City ISD Stadium.
Whitesboro finished its season at 6-6.
Mineola senior quarterback Jeremiah Crawford passed for 137 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 144 yards in the win. Junior Chantz Perkins finished with 87 yards rushing and a score.
Whitesboro running back Jake Dyer led all players with 163 yards and two touchdowns.
The Yellowjackets trailed Whitesboro 15-13 at halftime after being held to 82 yards rushing.
Dyer took care of both Whitesboro touchdowns on scoring runs of 44 and 50 yards.
His first made it 7-0 with 4:39 after breaking loose on a 44-yard power sweep.
Mineola had been held on downs on its first drive as Whitesboro stacked up the box to prevent the run. Whitesboro forced Mineola into another third-and-long when Crawford hooked up with Drennon, who broke a tackle and took it the distance for a 55-yard score. Willie Tinajero's PAT tied the score 7-7 with 2:18 left in the first quarter.
The Yellowjackets then took the lead with Crawford, again using his arm, connected with Frankie Meason on completions of 22, 9, and 12 yards before the final one, a 6-yard touchdown pass.
On the PAT, Tinajero's kick was blocked and returned for two points by Brent Chaney after he received a pitch from Brandon Murphy, who had blocked the kick and recovered it.
That made it 13-9, but Whitesboro and Dyer were not finished. Dyer used another power sweep to take it 50 yards to the end zone. The PAT was missed to leave the halftime score 15-13.
Mineola made its intentions pretty clear on the first drive of the third quarter. With Whitesboro facing third-and-one, the Bearcats tried a quarterback sneak. The play had worked twice in the first half, but this time was met by a Yellowjacket line surge that pushed back Whitesboro quarterback Channing Hickman for no gain.
The score still remained 21-15 entering the fourth quarter when Mineola went in front to stay. Crawford broke loose for runs of 25 and 22 yards to help the drive, which was capped on a 1-yard blast by Perkins. Crawford then scored the two-point conversion on a bootleg keeper to make it 21-15 with 6:57 to play.
Mineola then left it up to its defense to close out the victory.
"We really answered (the call) tonight," Mineola coach Joe Drennon said. "Anytime you see someone line up and run the football like they do, you know they are tough-nosed. Our defense overall answered up and made some great plays, and our offense made the drive when we needed to."
Class 3A Division I Area Playoff
No. 1 Mineola 21, Whitesboro 15
At T.A. "Cotton" Ford Memorial Stadium, Greenville
Whitesboro 7 8 0 0 - 15
Mineola 7 6 0 8 - 21
WHI-Jake Dyer 44 run (Joe Mason kick), 4:39
MIN-Michael Drennon 55 pass from Jeremiah Crawford (Willie Tinajero kick), 2:18
MIN-Frankie Meason 6 pass from Crawford (kick blocked), 7:45
WHI-Brent Chaney returns blocked kick, 7:45
WHI-Dyer 50 run (kick failed), 1:15
MIN-Chantz Perkins 1 run (Crawford run), 6:57
First Downs 9 18
Rushes-Yards 36-229 37-231
Passing Yards 4 137
Comp.-Att.-Int. 1-3-0 9-15-0
Punts-Avg. 5-40.4 1-55
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 2-15 6-52
RUSHING-Whitesboro, Jake Dyer 19-163, Preston Johnson 7-45, Channing Hickman 4-6, Noah Greisen 1-10, Brent Chaney 1-5, James Baker 1-4, Weston Hickman 1-(minus 4), Cody Crowe 1-(minus 2). Mineola, Jeremiah Crawford 21-144, Chantz Perkins 16-87.
PASSING-Whitesboro, Hickman 1-2-0 4, Greisen 0-1-0 0. Mineola, Crawford 9-15-0 137.
RECEIVING-Whitesboro, Johnson 1-4. Mineola, Frankie Meason 6-60, Addison Rychlik 2-22, Michael Drennon 1-55.