By Chris Brooks for The News Examiner
HENDERSONVILLE – Sometimes, ending a long losing streak takes a little extra work.
The Knights rallied from a 21-0 halftime deficit and stopped the Blue Devils’ two-point conversion attempt in overtime to pull out a 42-41 victory at the Jim Carell Athletic Complex.
Pope John Paul II (3-7) scored 21 fourth-quarter points to force the extra session, snapping a seven-game losing streak.
“It was just a game where I was pleased with the overall performance of the coaches and the players,” Knights’ head coach Jerry Joslin said. “It was one of those games where (White House) played hard enough to win, too. They’re within inches of winning.”
White House (6-4) scored on a 14-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Steven Rankin to classmate Brian Mullins to give the Blue Devils a chance to win in overtime, but Rankin’s two-point conversion pass intended for classmate Luke Hopkins fell incomplete at the goalline.
“(Pope John Paul II) made some big plays (in the second half),” White House head coach Jeff Porter said. “It was a tale of two halves. We had the momentum in the first half, and I thought they gained it in the third quarter. Our kids fought back, but we couldn’t get a stop (in overtime) and decided to go for the win.”
The Knights scored in overtime on a 10-yard touchdown run by senior Quer’Derius Hunter, after the Blue Devils won the coin toss and elected to go on defense first.
Hunter rushed for 114 yards on 17 carries and scored five touchdowns (runs of 4, 4, 30, 1 and 10 yards). He had a four-touchdown performance against Stratford earlier this season.
Turnovers cost the Knights two touchdowns as White House senior Chris Baldwin intercepted a pass from PJP II sophomore quarterback Ben Brooks in the second quarter, returning it 101 yards (the longest play in school history) to give the Blue Devils a 14-0 lead.
“We were moving the ball all night,” Brooks said. “But we had two turnovers in the red zone that really killed us.”
White House got a 2-yard touchdown run from junior tailback Trey Hyde to extend the lead to 21-0 at halftime.
“We were out of control out there in the first half,” Brooks said. “We just needed to come back and regroup out there.”
A Hyde fumble set the Knights up for their first points in the third quarter, as Hunter cashed in from 4 yards out. He added another 4-yard touchdown run an then a 30-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, following Hyde’s 8-yard jaunt. That pulled PJP II within 28-21.
“We made some mistakes that were costly,” Joslin said. “(Porter) had really prepared their team well, and they ran over us in the first half.”
Baldwin, who left the game in the second quarter with an injury after a hit on the sideline, returned in the second half and added a 95-yard kickoff return for a score with 2:40 remaining in regulation.
“We kept trying to tell our kids all week that (White House’s) coaches do a great job,” Joslin said. “Their kids play hard.
“I was proud of how our kids didn’t quit.”
That return happened seconds after Knight sophomore Jermaine Mason scored on a 71-yard touchdown run. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed the extra point back 15 yards, but sophomore placekicker Jackson Morris made it anyway to tie the game at 28-28.
“That was huge,” Joslin said of Morris’ extra point. “It was a great win for the seniors on senior night. They’ve done a lot for this program for four years. Senior night is not always a happy night, because you’re losing your seniors. But it was a great night for them.”
White House opened the scoring after recovering an onside kick to start the game, as senior placekicker Dillon Anderson fell on the loose ball. The Blue Devils rolled the dice during the possession, converting on a fourth-and-3 play from the Knights’ 17 yard line before Rankin hit junior tight end Logan Trimmer for a 6-yard touchdown.
“I thought our kids played extremely hard,” Porter said. “I’m encouraged by the effort they gave, and we’ll put this one past us and get ready to go this week.”
The Blue Devils tried another onside kick and fell on the ball, but junior Tanner Jordan touched the ball before it traveled 10 yards, allowing the Knights to take over near midfield.
“The momentum kept switching, and that’s what you play under, the momentum,” Joslin said. “Coach Porter and those guys play under momentum. We play under momentum, and I’m so proud of the way they battled.”
The Knights won last year’s contest at White House, coming away with a 18-10 victory in the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
Both teams will have playoff games next week, with opponents to be determined.
“All we’re guaranteed is four practice days and a game next Friday night,” Porter said. “We’ve got to take it for what it’s worth and make sure we get ourselves ready to go. Right now, everybody’s record is 0-0.”
Reach Chris Brooks at 575-7118 and on Twitter @CB_SumnerSports.
Pope John Paul II
WH – Logan Trimmer 6 pass from Steven Rankin. Dillon Anderson kick. WH – Chris Baldwin 101 interception return. Anderson kick. WH – Trey Hyde 2 run. Anderson kick. PJP II – Quer’Derius Hunter 4 run. Jackson Morris kick. PJP II – Hunter 4 run. Morris kick. WH – Hyde 8 run. Anderson kick. PJP II – Hunter 30 run. Morris kick. PJP II – Jermaine Mason 71 run. Morris kick. WH – Baldwin 95 kickoff return. Anderson kick. PJP II – Hunter 1 run. Morris kick. PJP II – Hunter 10 run. Morris kick. WH – Brian Mullins 14 pass from Rankin. Pass failed.
White House – Trey Hyde 29-151, Tanner Jordan 10-59, Troy Raymond 3-11, Steven Rankin 3-5, Luke Hopkins 1-0.
Pope John Paul II – Quer’Derius Hunter 17-114, Jermaine Mason 3-96, Ben Brooks 9-71.
White House – Steven Rankin 9-11-0 102, Luke Hopkins 1-1-0 32.
Pope John Paul II – Ben Brooks 15-22-1 181.
White House – Josh Mullins 3-84, Brian Mullins 4-28, Luke Hopkins 2-17, Logan Trimmer 1-6.
Pope John Paul II – Jacob Catignani 6-125, Jermaine Mason 9-56.