1004segravesAUDListen to White County Gregg Segraves talk about his team's disappointing loss to North Hall.
1004duncanAUDListen to North Hall senior Graham Duncan talk about the Trojans' win against White County.
1004christmasAUDListen to Bob Christmas talk about North Hall's win.
CLEVELAND -- In a game that featured a combined 10 turnovers, it was only fitting that the outcome was decided by an interception.
North Hall's Graham Duncan picked off a Chantz Segraves pass in the end zone on third-and-eight with 27.5 seconds remaining in the game to secure a 13-10 win against White County on Friday in Cleveland.
"I was extremely surprised he threw it," said Duncan, who intercepted Segraves on the Warriors' previous possession. "Once he threw it up there I knew I was gonna get it."
Despite the disappointing end of the game, White County coach Gregg Segraves believed he called the right play.
"We went for the win, and that's what we're going to do," said Segraves, backing his decision to throw the ball on third down from North Hall's 13-yard line. "Another foot and it's over the kid's head and we get the win.
"We didn't call throw an interception," he added. "We knew we had to get in the end zone, and we just didn't get the result."
While Duncan was surprised at the play call, North Hall coach Bob Christmas knew White County had to pass.
"I felt sure on third down they had to throw it," Christmas said. "If they ran, they had no timeouts and they wouldn't have been able to stop the clock. Duncan just made a great play on that ball."
White County (2-3, 0-1 Region 7A-AAA) had no timeouts left after using them to stop the clock during North Hall's last possession.
After struggling to stop the run all game - the Trojans (3-2, 2-0 Region 7A-AAA) racked up 213 rushing yards, including 78 from Matt Christmas - the Warrior defense stepped up and tackled the North Hall running backs twice in a row for a loss. On third down, the Warriors forced their fourth fumble of the night, putting the offense in great field position.
"It hurts when you work hard and you have a chance to win the game and it doesn't go your way," Segraves said.
While White County left the field disappointed, North Hall walked away relieved.
"I felt like we had our opportunities to get a comfortable lead," Christmas said. "But when you turn it over six times, it's tough to win."
So tough, that at one point Christmas wondered if his team was going to be able to overcome the mistakes.
"I thought, ‘How many times can you turn the ball over and still win the game?'" Christmas said. "I'm real impressed with our kids' mental toughness and resolve."
That toughness showed during North Hall's game-winning drive.
After turning the ball over on their first three possessions (two by fumble, one on downs) the Trojans started the drive on their own 35-yard line, and marched 55 yards down the field to set up first-and-goal from the White County's 10.
A Peyton Wilhoite 9-yard run put the ball on the goal line, but White County came up with back-to-back stops to set up fourth-and-goal.
With less than five minutes remaining, Christmas sent out kicker Jake Dunn, who nailed the 23-yard game-winner.
It was Dunn's second field goal of the game, as the senior kicked a 46-yarder as time expired in the first half to give North Hall a 10-3 lead.
Mark Bardenwarper gave the Warriors an early lead when he capped off a 15-play drive with a 22-yard field goal in the first quarter.
North Hall went ahead early in the second quarter. When faced with a third-and-8 on their own 36-yard line, Trojans quarterback Blayne Gilmer found a wide-open Beau Dehass for a 49-yard gain. Seven plays later, Avery Nix scored on a 1-yard run to cap the 11-play drive.
North Hall had plenty of opportunites to score in the second quarter, but the Trojans fumbled on the goal line, and after they got the ball back on a Warrior fumble, they gave the ball right back to White County, as Robert Jones intercepted a Gilmer pass.
Blake Limbaugh tied the game at 10 midway through the third quarter on a 7-yard touchdown run. That play was set up by a 28-yard scamper by sophomore Ashely Lowery.
But that was the final time the Warriors would score, and North Hall escaped Cleveland with a crucial subregion win.
"Since losing twice, we didn't want to lose again," Graham said. "Hopefully, this will get us back in the race for the region title."