Firebirds shatter Devils hopes in Quarterfinals
By Kris Freeman for The White House Connection
NASHVILLE – A record-setting performance by the Pearl-Cohn Firebirds ended the football season for White House in Nashville with a 79-36 loss in the Class 4-A quarterfinals.
White House (8-5) fell for the fifth consecutive season in the third round of the playoffs, falling behind 21-0 in the first six minutes of the game and never able to catch up. Despite trading scores for the majority of the second quarter, the Blue Devils still trailed 55-21 at the half.
It was the highest-scoring game in White House history, and the most points given up in a game, a half and a postseason game by far. White House had given up 61 points three times, but not in five decades. Pearl-Cohn (11-2) advances to play in the semifinals at Memphis Trezevant (13-1).
“Our kids played hard,” White House head coach Jeff Porter. “They just had a lot of firepower but what I am most proud of is these kids did not quit. These seniors played 52 games in their career and we have a lot to be thankful for.”
Firebirds quarterback Jimmy Ferrell was perfect. He completed 15-of-15 passes for 389 yards and five touchdowns, four to Rontavius Groves. Groves caught six passes for 240 yards and rushed seven times for 69 yards.
Highly-touted recruit Ke’Shawn Vaughn rushed 19 times for 172 yards and four touchdowns. Younger brother Ke’Juan Vaughn rushed for 23 yards and a score. Jimmyirious Parker returned a kick 70 yards for a touchdown, and Mario Gordon caught a 30-yard touchdown pass and ran for another, which was erased by a holding penalty.
Giving up 684 yards in the game, White House still fought back.
The Blue Devils got another 100-yard performance from junior Trey Hyde, who rushed 24 times and scored four touchdowns plus a two-point conversion. Steven Rankin rushed for one touchdown, and the junior quarterback completed 8-of-21 for 181 yards in the game, but was sacked four times under tremendous pressure.
Theo Cortner had two sacks for the Firebirds.
Senior Caleb Huffines set up the final touchdown for the Blue Devils in the fourth quarter, recovering a fumbled punt return by Parker. Huffines closed in on Parker as he signaled for a fair catch and pounced on the miscue at the 19.
But even closing the gap to 70-36 wasn’t the end of the scoring. Pearl-Cohn brought full pressure on a punt attempt and the blocked was swatted so hard it went backwards through the goal posts for a safety.
Parker returned the free kick 70 yards for a touchdown.
White House did not commit a penalty, and led in time of possession with 26 minutes.
Huffines caught two passes for 63 yards in the game including a long of 52, and Hyde and Luke Hopkins both made a couple of receptions each. Josh Mullins caught one pass for 48 and Brian Mullins snagged one for 14.
Senior Troy Raymond rushed two times for 10 yards including the final carry of his career on the final play of the game.
“At the start of the season, everybody knew that Pearl-Cohn was going to be in this position, the question was, who was going to be here to play them,” Porter said. “It was a hard road to get here and I am thankful we are here.
“This is reality. This is next year in our district. It’s a positive we can take from this game is the speed factor and athleticism it’s going to take to compete for championships. I am really proud of our team for battling, and hats off to our players and coaches for hanging in there.”