Connection: Devils beat adversity for District 9-AA title

west4By Kris Freeman for The White House Connection

WESTMORELAND – In the pre-game speech for the White House Blue Devils, defensive coordinator Chad Broadrick was prophetic, and following a 28-13 win at Westmoreland, White House is a District 9-AA champion because of it.

“Men, there will be adversity in this game and both teams are going to face it,” Broadrick said directly. “The team that overcomes that adversity is going to be the one that wins this football game.” Tied 7-7 heading into an emotional locker room, adversity seemed to leave White House on the short end of momentum. The Devils exploded for 21 points in the third quarter and the defense held Westmoreland without a first down for the opening 13 minutes of the second half.

The setup was a controversial ending to the first half. White House successfully converted a fake punt with Troy Raymond gaining five yards near midfield with 12 seconds left. Westmoreland’s Jay Wright was flagged for an illegal targeting hit on a defenseless receiver, knocking junior Josh Mullins to the turf on crossing route.

With one timeout, White House quarterback Ryan Pool ran the draw to the Eagles 20-yard-line and the Devils sideline called for timeout with two seconds left in the half. The timeout was granted but officials allowed the clock to expire, and an emotional Blue Devils team left the sideline, returned to the field, and eventually returned to the locker room with the half over.

“I think we finally just settled down,” said White House head coach Jeff Porter. “That starts with all of us and we got good ball control in the second half. We just kept pounding the football.”

Alex Felts rushed 31 times for 128 yards and three touchdowns, and he was complimented by fellow senior Bailey Burns with 10 carries for 63 yards and a score, and Burns led the defense with 12 tackles.

But the consistency of offense took center stage in the third quarter after White House recovered from a tough start and faced a potential 14-0 deficit. Justice Graves led the Eagles to a seven-play, 80-yard touchdown drive and a 7-0 lead on a 25-yard touchdown pass. After a White House punt, Westmoreland was threatening again when Graves scrambled and was picked off at the 18 by Mullins.

Despite losing the ball on downs, the Blue Devils picked up momentum when Emmett Cannon recovered a Patrick French fumble as Blaiz Phillips of White House stripped it loose. Five plays later, the game was tied.

“They had us on the ropes in the first half and they kept making plays and kept us off balance,” Porter explained. “I tell you what, they are a very good football team. But our kids just fight, and this was a special night.”

In the third quarter, the Blue Devils marched seven plays and 55 yards, six plays and 60 yards and one play for 25 yards. Each drive ended with a Felts touchdown run, and included a 32-yard strike from Pool to Wesley James and a blocked punt by Denis Schaffer.

In all, by the fourth quarter, the Devils had seized control of a 28-7 edge and won the game 28-13 going away.

White House dominated the ground game 283-96, and total yards 343-242, especially after Graves had 140 yards passing in the first quarter. He ended the night with 8-of-15 completions for 146, essentially shut down the final three quarters of the game in the air.

White House controlled the ball for 30:17, the third time of the season with over 30 minutes time of possession in a game. Westmoreland had two turnovers and White House none, moving the Devils to plus-12 for the year, and the Eagles managed to convert just 1-of-9 on third down.

White House (7-1, 5-0) travels to Cheatham County in week nine, winning the district championship by virtue of a tiebreaker over every contending team. It was the first back-to-back region or district title since 1997-98.

“This is really emotional for us,” Porter said. “Where we were in fall practice, to be quite honest, we weren’t very good and our kids will tell you that. We couldn’t score, we couldn’t do a lot of things in fall practice and it was really a struggle.

“To be able to have this opportunity to play for a district championship is a credit to our young men.”

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