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White County defense stops Trojans, 21-7

POSTED: October 18, 2013 11:50 p.m.
NAT GURLEY/The Times

North Hall quarterback Andrew Smith scrambles away from a White County defender in the second quarter of Friday's game in Cleveland.

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CLEVELAND — White County just proved it can play with the big boys in Region 7-AAA.

A.J. Vandiver had just the right touch on his passes when White County needed it most on Friday. And the Warriors' defense made plenty of big hits to slow North Hall’s wishbone offense in Cleveland.

And with a 21-7 win, White County (5-2, 3-1) delivered the first upset to the top of the region standings and greatly helped its playoff chances.

It marked White County’s first win against North Hall since 2010.

“It feels great to beat North Hall, but we can’t get too high about it because we still have some very good teams left to play,” said White County running back Dalton Whitfield, who rushed for 100 yards and had a touchdown grab in the first half.

White County coach Bill Ballard says that he added a linebacker to give a 5-3 defensive look to match North Hall’s physical style of offensive play. Now at 3-1 in region play, the Warriors turn their attention to Dawson County on Friday as they hope to finish strong and get a homefield playoff spot at season’s end.

“This is a big win for us, but now we have to focus on Dawson County and then we have to play West Hall after that,” Ballard said.

Zac Little led fourth-ranked North Hall (6-1, 3-1) with 113 yards on the ground and a long first-quarter touchdown run. The Trojans finished the game with 285 yards on the ground and 335 yards of total offense.

However, Vandiver’s perfectly-placed touchdown passes were clearly the difference in the game. He connected on touchdown throws to Whitfield in the first half, then Tucker Cook early in the third quarter that made the difference.

After eluding a sack deep in the backfield as he roamed to his left, Vandiver connected with Cook on a 5-yard touchdown in the early minutes of the third quarter to grab a 21-7 lead. Vandiver’s first big touchdown pass for the Warriors was late in the second quarter with a 9-yard pass to a leaping Whitfield in the end zone. Whitfield made the grab between three North Hall defenders.

White County’s defense matched the effort of the offense. Despite some productive drives by the North Hall offense, the Warriors defense stood strong and stopped the Trojans on all five of their fourth-down attempts. With six minutes left to play in the game, White County’s defense stopped North Hall quarterback Andrew Smith just shy of the yardage he needed on fourth and 2 at the Warriors’ 11.

“I think the difference in the game was that we came out very flat in the first half,” North Hall coach Bob Christmas said. “When you play White County, you’re going to have to play well all 48 minutes.”

White County made big plays in the first half that have been hard to come by to this stage in the season against a strong Trojans' defense. Whitfield’s 9-yard touchdown grad on a jump ball in the end zone between a trio of North Hall defenders gave White County the 14-7 edge going into halftime.

The Warriors’ also were first to strike in the game. Coley Loudermilk slipped through the line midway through the first quarter for an 80-yard touchdown run for White County. Little answered less than two minutes later with a 61-yard scoring run for the Trojans, which rushed for 151 in the opening half.

Tied 7-all early in the second quarter, North Hall started to string a drive together. Smith hit Nolan Tucker along the sideline for a 28-yard gain, and then Bennett carried for 6 yards into Warriors territory.

Despite the progress, the drive stalled for North Hall.

Smith had an elusive 32-yard run on third-and-6 on North Hall’s next drive, trailing 14-7 at this point, before the Warriors defense stopped the Trojans on a fourth-down run attempt.

White County finished the game with 300 yards of offense, 225 on the ground.

On Friday, North Hall hosts West Hall at The Brickyard; White County hosts Dawson County in Cleveland.



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