CLEVELAND — White County High interim coach Tommy Flowers wasn't at all floored by the fact that Friday's game against Lumpkin County came down to the wire.
Despite taking a 21-0 early in the third quarter on a 1-yard run from Ashely Lowery, the Warriors (4-1, 1-0 Region 8A-AAA) had to hang on late in the fourth quarter and forced Lumpkin County (3-2, 0-1 Region 8A-AAA) into a turnover with only 2:50 left in the game to secure a 21-14 win in the subregion opener for both teams in Cleveland.
"I'm proud of our team," Flowers, who is serving in the interim for coach Gregg Segraves who is on leave from the school system. "They never gave up and kept battling to the end.
"We're rivals and I knew this was going to be a dogfight."
White County kept control of the game for the majority of the first three quarters behind the running of senior Lowery (17 rushes, 191 yards and two touchdowns) and sophomore quarterback Cole Segraves (98 yards and a touchdown).
"Hats off to White County," Lumpkin County coach Tommy Jones said. "Coach Flowers did a great job getting them ready for this game."
Turnovers also played heavily into the game. White County turned it over it over three times on fumbles, and Lumpkin County threw three interceptions. Both teams finished with four total turnovers.
But White County's steady, ball-control offense proved the difference.
Lowery and Segraves, the only two to carry the ball on the night for White County, were consistently moving the pile forward for sizable gains most of the time.
For Lowery, this win was all about showing how close his team is and that they can battle adversity.
"We really wanted this win for coach Segraves," Lowery said.
Early in the second quarter, Lowery plowed through the middle for a gain of 22, followed by a run of 24 yards on the next play. Even though Lumpkin County stopped back-to-back rush attempts near the goal line for a minimal gain, Segraves ran to the corner on fourth down and scored from the 3, and gave the Warriors a 7-0 lead.
Despite White County's success running the ball, Lumpkin County didn't panic and started chipping away with its own running back-quarterback running duo. Starting late in the third quarter, Indians quarterback Taylor Guthrie and fullback Michael Flanagan (91 yards, touchdown) moved the ball steadily down the field.
Then trailing 21-0, Lumpkin County scored its first touchdown on a 21-yard pass from Guthrie to junior Ian McIntosh in the back corner of the end zone. Guthrie started the drive moving in a positive direction with a 28-yard run on a fake.
Later in the third quarter, Lumpkin County started its second touchdown drive that ended with a 19-yard run from Flanagan, who scored after peeling off one would-be tackler at the 15. Guthrie kept the touchdown drive alive with a 14-yard pass to Chris Lopez on a third-and-11.
I was proud of how resilient our team was in the second half," Jones said. "Taylor was doing a good job running the veer and Michael was running the ball really hard."
Trailing 21-14 in the fourth quarter, Lumpkin County was mounting another long drive. Four plays into the drive and moving steadily down field, the Indians drew the benefit of a pass interference call on a halfback pass. It set up first-and-10 at the White County 25.
However, the Warriors defense settled down and on fourth down, Warriors senior Ryan Kennedy intercepted the pass to secure the win.
Patrick Jones added two interceptions from the Warriors' secondary.