Connection: Devils defense slams door on Indians

From Staff Reports for The White House Connection

KINGSTON SPRINGS – White House took one step closer to a District 9-AA championship with a 31-0 shutout of Harpeth on the road Friday night, dominating the Indians despite an evenly-matched statistical effort by both teams.

The Blue Devils kept the Indians scoreless with turnovers and sacks and cashed in on two big plays to put the contest away. Alex Lyon caught two touchdown passes from fellow senior Ryan Pool, and it was the first time White House threw a pass into the endzone successfully in 11 games.

White House (6-1, 4-0) travels to Westmoreland Friday night for the game that will decide the 9-AA championship. Though Westmoreland (6-1, 3-0) still has more district games to play in weeks nine and 10, White House goes to Cheatham County in week nine and would hold the tiebreakers over all potential contenders with a win over Westmoreland.

The Blue Devils came into the game with a plus-seven turnover ratio and pushed it to double digits with the win over Harpeth. While the Indians turned it over three times, White House held serve and turned the opening series into points.

“Being on a wet field, turnovers are the key difference in the game,” White House head coach Jeff Porter said. “Getting the score right before the half was critical and then we come out with the big kick return to start the second half.”

Denis Schaffer’s second interception in as many weeks put the Blue Devils in business at their own 45. Seven plays later, senior Alex Felts walked into the endzone untouched for a 6-0 lead, after a huge pass to Josh Mullins to the one-yard line for 26 yards. The two-point conversion run was no good.

Harpeth failed on downs for two straight series after an eight-play drive, but when senior Wesley James recovered a fumble to give White House excellent field position to start the second quarter, the Blue Devils failed on downs at the Harpeth 23. Forcing a quick punt, the visitors got back in business.

This time, White House scored on the fifth play of a 53-yard drive, a 24-yard strike to Lyon. Bailey Burns ran in the two-point conversion for a 14-0 lead late in the first half.

Zach Baldwin sacked Harpeth’s quarterback Jeff Brinkley twice on the final two plays of the first half, one of three sacks for the Devils. And when the Indians lined up for the second half kick, Mullins put the game away.

The junior bolted 85 yards for a touchdown on a kick return and Dillon Anderson made it 21-0 with 11:48 to start the third quarter.

Anderson connected on a 33-yard field goal to make it 24-0, and Pool found Lyon in the fourth quarter for 28 yards to finalize the score at 31-0.

Pool completed 5-of-6 for 95 yards and a pair of scores, and rushed twice for 10 yards. Steven Rankin came off the bench late to complete 1-of-2 passes for 14 yards, and Luke Hopkins kept an earlier drive alive with an 11-yard completion to Mullins on a fake punt.

Overall, White House was 7-of-10 passing for 120 yards. The Blue Devils rushed 36 times for 115 yards with Felts collecting 51 on 20 carries. Total offense was 235-215 in favor of the Devils.

Harpeth struggled to stay on the field against the stingy Devils defense, just 5-of-18 on third and fourth down total, including a pair of unsuccessful attempts on fake punts. White House missed five times on fourth down conversions out of six tries.

“I was not surprised they went for it,” Porter said. “At that point in the game, they were playing to win and we were fortunate to make a couple of stops.”

Brinkley and his teammates were 6-of-20 passing for 77 yards with two picks and rushed for 138 yards.

Taylor Wood led the White House defense with 10 tackles including a tackle for loss, with Burns adding eight stops. Blaiz Phillips had six tackles and a sack and Wyatt Bailey made five. Caleb Huffines stopped a late scoring drive with an interception in the endzone.

With Friday’s effort, the Blue Devils are now ranked 12th in the state in total defense across all classifications and divisions at 9.4 points per game. The last White House team to average less than 10 points allowed was the 2001 team.

“They are probably the best football team we have faced other than Lipscomb and their record speaks for itself,” Porter explained. “This is a very big challenge on the road against them, and they are a solid football team all the way around. They play with tremendous heart, great chemistry and play with the attitude to refuse to lose.”

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