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GAINESVILLE — Chestatee tripped over its own feet for the entirety of Friday night’s game against White County and the opportunistic Warriors didn’t hesitate to get their shots in while the War Eagles were down.
Hampered by seven turnovers, Chestatee lost to White County 35-21 at War Eagle Stadium. The War Eagles never had a lead during their homecoming game.
"It feels good," White County senior Drew Crumley said. "They did it to us last year, so we just wanted to come in here and return the favor."
The War Eagles offense held itself down with four interceptions and three lost fumbles. Three of those turnovers were turned into 21 White County points.
Chestatee had 124 more yards of offense than White County, but the Warriors were repeatedly given good field position off the turnovers.
"That has kind of been the exact opposite of us," White County coach Gregg Segraves said. "We haven’t really had a lot of breaks and tonight we did. We took the game to them and didn’t sit back on our heels. Those turnovers had a lot to do with our effort."
Chestatee only scored seven points in the first three quarters, a 41-yard touchdown run by quarterback Ethan Souther, and added 14 more points in the game’s final three minutes.
Other than that, White County’s defense gave Chestatee no room to breathe and its offense did not miss a scoring opportunity. The Warriors led by as much as 28 points in the fourth quarter.
"We knew White County was going to be a tough match coming in," Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell said. "White County had a great plan and that, combined with our mistakes, cost us the game. ... We just have to use this and grow up."
With a 14-7 lead at halftime, the Warriors opened the second half with a 19-play scoring drive that took 6 minutes, 12 seconds off the clock. The drive was extended by a personal foul by Chestatee after the Warriors couldn’t convert on a third-and-9 play.
The drive ended with a fake field goal that included an over-the-shoulder pitch from the holder to freshman Ashley Lowery, who then completed a pass to senior receiver Crumley for the score.
"We knew that was going to be a key drive," Segraves said. "We’ve been practicing that all year and were just waiting for the opportunity."
Crumley, who finished the game with two touchdown catches, was open for 5 yards on either side in the back corner of the end zone.
"I thought it was going to work," he said. "I wasn’t nervous about catching the ball. I was just nervous about the (defense) almost tipping the ball."
The Warriors added two more touchdowns on their next two possessions. Senior running back Eli McCallister ran in for a 7-yard score, his second, and senior quarterback Tyler Norman scored on a 67-yard sweep.
McCallister ended the night with 41 yards rushing on 13 carries and a fumble recovery. Norman finished the win with 98 yards rushing on nine carries.
After the game, Norman bounced practically all the way back to his team’s bus.
The only people not completely surprised in War Eagle Stadium were the Warriors.
"We came together and dominated," White County senior Brandon Vaught said. "This might sound cocky, but we did (expect to win this one). We were very well-prepared."
After falling behind 21-7 in the third quarter, Chestatee looked lifeless walking out to receive the kickoff. It wasn’t until the War Eagles started scoring late that they looked like the team that had beaten rival Gainesville just two weeks earlier.
Senior running back Jo Jo Sweet ran for 175 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns and Souther finished with 68 yards on nine carries and a touchdown.
But anytime it looked like Chestatee had momentum on its side, the ball would end up in the Warriors’ hands.
"We tried to press a little," Luttrell said. "We are still growing up. We have lots of guys that are still learning."
In the War Eagles’ two losses, they have turned the ball over a combined 13 times.
Chestatee received more bad news in the fourth quarter when junior defensive back Scott Livingston injured his neck trying to keep McCallister out of the end zone. The game was delayed nearly 10 minutes while Livingston was attended to on the field. He was eventually put into an ambulance and taken to the hospital.
"From what the doctors told me with the initial evaluation, he felt like this was a precautionary move," Luttrell. "He did have some feeling and I think he was just scared, as it would scare anyone."
Friday night’s loss does not knock Chestatee from the playoffs, but it cannot afford another slip up to stay in the hunt for a third consecutive trip to the playoffs.
"There’s not telling what can happen on any given Friday," Luttrell said. "We’ve just got to regroup and beat Gilmer next week."
White County’s playoff hopes, on the other hand, were given new life with the win. The Warriors have already played arguably their two toughest opponents in the subregion, including a 47-9 loss to North Hall last week.
"This is just a step for us," Segraves said. "It’s a big step."
The Warriors feel like they needed a win like this to earn both respect and attention in Region 7-AAA.
"If we didn’t," Vaught said, "people are crazy."
White County 35, Chestatee 21
White County 7 7 7 14—35
Chestatee 0 7 0 14—21
WCHS—McCallister 3 run (Tone kick), 1:12
CHS—E. Souther 41 run (Mills kick), 11:17
WCHS—Crumley 10 pass from Norman (Tone kick), :46
WCHS—Crumley 13 pass from Lowery (Tone kick), 5:48
WCHS—McCallister 7 run (Tone kick), 10:46
WCHS—Norman 67 run (Tone kick), 7:45
CHS—Sweet 24 run (Mills kick), 3:03
CHS—Sweet 6 run (Mills kick), 1:33
White County Chestatee
First downs 13 14
Rushes-yards 32-149 46-305
Passing yards 102 70
Comp.-Att.-Int. 6-21-1 6-15-4
Total yards 251 375
Fumbles-lost 2-2 4-3
Punts-avg. 2-42 1-23
Penalties-yards 6-64 5-45
Rushing: White County, Norman 9-98, McCallister 13-41, Lowery 2-25. Chestatee, Sweet 22-175, E. Souther 9-68, B. Souther 6-34, Bazzell 9-28.
Passing: White County, Norman 6-21-1 89, Lowery 1-1-0, 13. Chestatee, E. Souther, 5-14-4 63, Chewning 1-1-0 7.
Receiving: White County, Crumley 3-38, Vaught 2-30, Fredrick 1-20, Ingram 2-14. Chestatee, Grunenefelder 3-27, Byers 2-23, Sweet 2-20.