By Kris Freeman for The White House Connection
NASHVILLE – The historic first meeting of the two public high schools in White House on the football field moved the showcase event of the town to Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville.
The Blue Devils of White House High School dominated the game on the ground and in time of possession, winning 26-7 over the Patriots of White House Heritage High School Thursday night. White House (5-1, 3-0) remains in a first-place tie with Westmoreland in District 9-AA, while Heritage is still searching for its first district win (3-3, 0-2).
The estimated crowd of 6,000 people watched as two teams battled on the gridiron for the first time ever, after the Sumner and Robertson County line running through the town resulted in a new school opening 12 years ago.
“Every game moves us closer to the end of the season and it was very important for us to pick up a win tonight in district play,” said White House head coach Jeff Porter to the Blue Devil Sports Network after the game as both coaches participated in media interviews on the field. “But more importantly, tonight was two football teams and one community, and I am proud of the example both teams put on the field.”
Following an opening scoring drive of 13 plays and 76 yards for White House to take a 6-0 lead, the Blue Devils turned to a consistent defensive performance to take control of the contest for good. White House held White House Heritage to 31 total yards and no first downs until a final 13-play, 84-yard drive by the Patriots to get on the scoreboard late in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots had 110 yards of total offense, 88 of which on the ground and was just 1-of-6 on third down. The Patriots only ran 29 plays in the game. White House had 328 total yards and ran 64 plays, easily holding a 33:40-14:20 edge in time of possession.
Senior tailback Alex Felts carried 30 times for 172 yards, breaking for 38 yards on the second play of the game to set the tone for the Blue Devils on the ground. Ryan Pool completed 6-of-10 for 70 yards and rushed for two touchdowns.
White House Heritage trailed 26-0 in the fourth quarter when the offense kicked into gear. Quarterback Hunter Reyes found Ethan Risden on the visitor sideline for 22 yards on 2nd-and-10 on the opening play of the first quarter to move the chains for the first time. After three nine-yard runs from Ryan Sizemore, the Patriots eventually moved to first and goal at the 10 after a completed pass to Nate Walker and defensive holding.
Kyle Fuhrer finished the drive with back-to-back runs for the touchdown and Trent Burian kicked the extra point for the 26-7 final.
“When I came here from East Robertson (12 years ago), I watched Coach Porter and how hard his teams fought every year, and the great tradition that was built in White House,” said White House Heritage coach Pat Brown. “That is what we try to instill in our kids and we kept fighting to the very end.”
White House built the lead to 23-0 by halftime on long drives and big plays. The Blue Devils scored on the first five possessions of the game, with Dillon Anderson making two field goals, and the scoring streak was finally broken with a missed field goal by Chance Lamberth in the third, leading 26-0.
The Blue Devils punted for the first time in the third quarter when the Patriots defense forced a three-and-out, and appeared to have seized momentum when the snap sailed over sophomore punter Logan Trimmer’s head.
But Trimmer, who now has six kicks inside the 20 yard line and an average of 34 yards per kick this season, recovered to scramble outside the hashes and rugby-kick a punt that rolled to the White House Heritage 16. The Patriots did score on the next drive.
Senior linebacker Bailey Burns led the defensive efforts for White House with eight tackles, and also rushed six times for 45 yards. Trimmer also had six stops and senior Taylor Wood five, and tight end Wesley James pulled in the highlight of the night with a 27-yard reception, leaping between two defenders and somersaulting Patriots corner Brett Ferguson on the catch.
Sizemore carried four times for 26 yards to lead the Patriots and Fuhrer added four for 23. Reyes rushed five times for 15 yards but completed just 1-of-5 passes for 22 yards. He was intercepted once by Denis Schaffer and sacked once by Jamie Futch. Peyton Whilhoite had a sack for the Patriots of Pool.
Despite being rivals on the field, the night was full of unity on both sides, including a moment of silence with both sets of fans, a gathering of both teams at midfield following the game, and a joint National Anthem performed by the bands together in pregame.
“We tried to keep it apart as long as we could,” Brown said. “But I am very proud of how everyone behaved and competed together, and we are going to shake it up and mingle on the field then they will move on to Class 4-A and we will move on to Class 3-A (postseason seeding) and we will pull for them, and them for us.”