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White County advances with 28-20 win over LaGrange

Lowery scores 3 TDs to spark Warriors to first-ever state playoff victory

POSTED: November 12, 2010 11:27 p.m.

CLEVELAND — Ashely Lowery refused for White County High's story to end in the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs.

Lowery, White County's senior running back, made big plays time and time again en route to a 28-20 win over LaGrange (5-6) on Friday in Cleveland.

With its first win in a home playoff game, White County (9-2) will travel to Grady on Friday, a first-round 48-0 winner over Gilmer.

"Every game keeps getting bigger now," Lowery said. "We've been to Atlanta and played there before, so we shouldn't be intimidated."

Not only did Lowery block a big extra point for the Warriors, but he also scored a go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter. He scored the game-winner late in the fourth quarter on fourth-and-goal at the 1 and finished the game with 151 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries.

Warriors senior receiver D.J. Rogers added a touchdown with remarkable focus in tight coverage in the second half to take a 21-20 lead.

Now, the story is ready for the next chapter at White County.

"I told our team we just need to get past the first round and funny things happen after that; I've seen it happen every year," White County coach Tommy Flowers said. "I want our team to be that dark horse this season that surprises folks."

"It still hasn't kicked in that we won," Warriors defensive lineman Nick Black said.

After a tough first half on both sides of the ball and trailing 14-6, White County struck big on the first play of the third quarter with a 55-yard pass from Cole Segraves to Ethan McCallister. Then on fourth-and-18, Segraves threw to Rogers in the end zone and he managed to catch the ball, despite excellent defensive coverage by the Grangers.

"That was a great circus catch," Lowery said. "He didn't catch it at first, but stayed focused to bring it in.

"Without that catch, we might not get the win."

"When D.J. made that catch, we got the momentum back and didn't let them have it back," Black said.

Flowers said that catch was just the kind of breaks in White County's favor the team was missing in the region title game last Friday against Gainesville.

"The bottom line is that we made plays when we needed to in this game," Flowers said. "It feels great to get this win and still be playing."

LaGrange answered Rogers' touchdown with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Braxton Smith to Dee Smith, but Lowery burst through the line to block the extra point.

Then, Lowery took over in the running game and kept the chains moving in the fourth quarter, including a run of 20 yards late in the quarter on third-and-5. Earlier in the drive he burst ahead for 20 also on a third-down play.

"We knew that LaGrange got up early on people this season then let teams come back," Lowery said. "So when we got down 14-6, we didn't panic and just kept fighting."

Lowery sealed the win with a touchdown run from the 1 with 1:29 left in the game to make the lead 28-20. The final touchdown drive continued when LaGrange was hit with a personal foul penalty on fourth down to let the Warriors keep possession.

"That was a great job by Ashely running the ball and a great job by the offensive line blocking," Flowers said. "LaGrange was doing a lot of different things and stunting with their defensive line."

LaGrange led early with a pair of quick second-quarter touchdowns from Chauncey Smith: one on a 5-yard touchdown run and the next on an interception return for a touchdown from 40 yards only two minutes later. Malcolm Dowell led the Grangers with five catches for 59 yards.

Then, White County took over with the running game to secure its third come-from-behind victory this season. The Warriors also had a pair of interceptions in the second half.

Except for a nice pair of runs by Lowery in the first half (60 and 20 yards), LaGrange did a good job stopping the Warriors' running game. However, Lowery's 60-yard run followed by a 25-yard run by Segraves, set up Lowery's first score from the 3 to take a 6-0 lead.

Ryan Kennedy and McCallister each had an interception for White County.

Now it's on to Atlanta for the Warriors.

"Every game is bigger from now on," Flowers said.



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