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White County defense holds on late, tops Adairsville 52-28

Warriors advance to play Blessed Trinity in 2nd round

POSTED: November 15, 2013 10:53 p.m.

CLEVELAND — The No. 2-seed White County Warriors defeated the no. 3-seed Adairsville Tigers 52-28 on Friday night in the first round of the state AAA playoffs.

Friday night’s game at White County Stadium was a tale of two halves: offense in the first half, defense in the second.

The Warriors (9-2) next will play at No. 1-seed Blessed Trinity, a rematch from one of the Warriors’ only losses this season.

“We played a little sloppy to start off tonight’s ballgame,” White County head coach Bill Ballard said. “I think playoff nerves had something to do with that, and they (Adairsville) have a good athletic football team.”

The Warriors carried a six-point lead into halftime at 27-21, but the Warriors (7-4) made the proper adjustments in the second half and outscored the Tigers 25-7.

“They made some really good plays in the first half,” Ballard said. “We made some adjustments at halftime. We played pretty good defense in the second half, even though we gave up one touchdown.

“I was proud of the defense in the second half. They rose up and stopped them when we needed them to and made some big plays.”

The Warriors were led by senior running back Dalton Whitfield, who rushed for 237 yards on 25 carries and scored three touchdowns.

Maurice Sutton added 109 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns for the Warriors’ offense.

“I’m real proud of the offensive line and the offensive players,” Ballard said. “They moved the ball well all night.”

The Warriors’ defense forced two fumbles, recovering one. They put the game away when sophomore Adam Johnson returned a Tigers’ interception 80 yards for a score.

The Tigers were led by running back Austin Harris who rushed for 117 yards on eight carries and one touchdown. He also caught two passes for 69 yards and one touchdown.

Tristin Smith added 92 yards on 12 carries and one touchdown for the Tigers.

Adairsville’s opening drive was spot on as the offense marched 80 yards in 12 plays, capped off by quarterback Marcus Childers’ 8-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers an early 7-0 lead.

The Warriors responded quickly as Clancy Loudermilk returned the Tigers’ kick 71 yards and had a 15-yard face mask penalty added to the end of the play to set the Warriors up first-and-10 at the Tigers’ 13-yard line.

Two plays later, Whitfield found the end zone from 9 yards away to tie the game at 7-7.

“I feel like our team came out and played well,” Whitfield said. “Our offensive line got at it tonight, and I don’t think this ballgame would’ve been the same without them.”

The Tigers’ response was even quicker as Harris broke loose from the Warriors’ defense and scored on an 80-yard run to put the Tigers ahead at 14-7 with 6:37 left in the first quarter.

The White County offense responded on the next drive, taking three plays, capped when Sutton scored his first touchdown on a 35-yard run to tie the game at 14-14 with 5:35 left in the first quarter.

After forcing a punt, the Warriors’ offense was poised to go up when the Tigers’ defense recovered a fumble in the end zone.

Adairsville didn’t capitalize on the turnover, giving the ball back to White County. Sutton put the Warriors ahead, running in his second touchdown from 14 yards away with 10:46 left in the second quarter.

“It was a tough game,” Sutton said. “Great offense for them, we just tried to maintain ours the whole game.”

Adairsville responded, tying the game at 21-21 when Smith sprinted 44 yards for a touchdown with 10:20 left in the half.

Then, with eight seconds left until halftime, Whitfield scored his second touchdown, this time from two yards away to give the Warriors a 27-21 halftime lead. The score capped off a 12-play 61-yard drive.

After receiving the second-half kick, White County marched 80 yards in 11 plays, the drive capped by Sam Turner’s 17-yard touchdown run. After Whitfield pounded in the 2-point conversion, the Warriors’ lead extended to 35-21.

With 7:27 left in the fourth quarter, kick Wesley Saunders added a 23-yard field goal to put the Warriors up 38-21.
The Tigers didn’t go away, however, as Childers hooked up with Harris on a 61-yard touchdown strike with 7:10 left in the game.

After forcing a Warriors’ fumble, Adairsville marched downfield but missed a 45-yard field goal attempt.

Then, Whitfield scored his third touchdown of the game, dashing in from 14 yards away to put White County up 45-28.

On Adairsville’s next possession, Johnson picked off Childers and returned it 80 yards for the score.

The meeting with Blessed Trinity will be the fourth time the schools have played in two years.

“They do a great job there (at Blessed Trinity),” Ballard said. “It’s somebody we want to be able to compete with. Hopefully we’ve gotten better and we can give them a good football and try and be in it.”


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