The White County football team once again made a defensive stand late in a game to give the Warriors (6-1, 3-0 Region 8A-AAA) a thrilling 21-14 win over the Stephens County Indians (5-2, 2-1) on Friday night.
After an emotional win over North Hall last week the Warriors carried that momentum into Friday's game beating the Indians in the first ever matchup between the two schools.
Coach Tommy Flowers said, "It was going back and forth tonight, just a slugfest. Anytime you have some success in some close games like we have this season you always feel like you've got a chance. The kids just kept responding tonight."
With 1:48 left in the fourth quarter, and trailing 21-14, the Stephens County offense marched downfield, taking the ball down to the Warrior 10-yard line with 25 seconds left to go.
The drive started on the Indians' 38-yard line and featured two terrific catches by receivers T'omas Colbert and Cassadine Blassingame setting up the final play of the night. The Warrior defensive line pressured the Stephens County quarterback and forced him to make an errant pass, which landed in the arms of Cam Segraves for the game-sealing interception.
"I just told myself, ‘just catch the ball,' Segraves said. "The D-line did a great job and got pressure on the quarterback, and I was just in the right place at the right time."
White County forged ahead by putting together a four-play drive that started on its 10-yard line. With 3:23 left to go in the fourth quarter, quarterback Cole Segraves found Cam Segraves wide open in the middle of the field for a 69-yard gain, spotting the ball at the Stephens 17.
Two plays later, Cole Segraves took the direct snap, headed to his right, found a crease and bowled over two Indian defenders to put the Warriors ahead for good 21-14 with 1:48 left in the game.
It was his second rushing touchdown of the night. He finished the game with 83 yards rushing and 147 yards passing to lead his team to the win.
"I thought we were snake bit because they had some passes that bounced up in the air and caught it," Flowers said. "And then we had an injury in pregame to one of our starters and I felt like the air went out of our kids."
The win may not have been possible if not for the heroics of senior Ethan McCallister. He was injured during pregame warmups and didn't suit up for the first half. However, with the score tied at 7-7 at halftime, he decided to put on the pads and attempt to play in the second half.
McCallister made what could have been the play of the game and even the play of the season for the Warriors.
"It's not easy to sit on the sidelines when you know it's your senior year," McCallister said.
After Stephens County scored on the first play of the fourth quarter to make the score 14-7, the Warrior offense put together a 9-play, 65 yard drive to tie the game. The Warriors faced a fourth-and-5 to go on the Indians' 11.
McCallister took the handoff from the quarterback on a reverse, saw a blitzing Indian defender and that his primary target was covered, and lofted the ball up to his receiver Patrick Jones in the back of the end zone. Jones had to adjust to the underthrown pass but made a diving catch in front of a Stephens County defender to tie the game at 14-14 with 7:57 left to go.
"I saw the outside linebacker blitzing and knew I couldn't get it to my No. 1 receiver, so I found Patrick and got him the ball," McCallister said.
After forcing a Stephens County punt on their next possession, the Warriors were just getting started with the dramatics as they scored on their next drive to take the lead and then iced the victory with an interception at the goal line.
The victory gave White County the lead in the Region 8A-AAA subregion with two games left to play.
"This is huge. The last couple of weeks might be the biggest wins in our program history that we've had here," Flower said. "Both those games we got left, any one of them on any given night could give us a spanking and they've got good coaching staffs and good players and we gotta keep working and take it one step at a time."