White County had a whole week to prepare for playing a game with a freshman quarterback.
Chestatee had two plays.
On just the second play from scrimmage, Chestatee quarterback Scott Chewning broke his collarbone, which forced the War Eagles to insert freshman Jordan Degraff into the game.
The loss of Chewning immediately hampered Chestatee’s offense, which fumbled the ball on three straight possessions, leading to 10 points and a deficit that was too much to overcome in a 31-17 defeat Friday at War Eagles Stadium.
"It affected us a bunch," Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell said of Chewning’s injury. "Any time a leader like that goes down, it’s going to affect you."
White County (4-3, 1-2 Region 7-AAA) took advantage of the disrupted offense.
Following a 95-yard touchdown run by Ashely Lowery that gave the Warriors a 7-3 lead, Chestatee fumbled on its own 20. That led to a Mark Bardenwarper 42-yard field goal.
The War Eagles (4-3, 3-1) fumbled again on their first play of the ensuing possession that White County turned into a 5-yard touchdown run by Rusty Rider.
"White County took advantage of our mistakes and should be commended," Luttrell said.
And the Warriors did so with freshman Cole Segraves at quarterback and without Lowery, who left the game with a concussion after gaining 118 yards on the ground.
"I thought he played well," White County’s coach said of his freshman signal-caller, who finished the game with 128 yards passing and two touchdowns. "We were able to run the football and I think that helped take off some of the pressure."
But with Lowery out of the game, Chestatee shut down the White County run game. That didn’t faze the freshman Segraves, who completed a 47-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Jones to give the Warriors a 24-3 lead heading into halftime.
Segraves threw his second touchdown, an 8-yard pass to Adam Hooper, at the start of the fourth quarter.
Trailing 31-3, Degraff and the War Eagles found their groove in the fourth quarter, scoring two touchdowns on runs of 12 and 47 yards by Ben Souther, who finished with 198 yards rushing.
"I’m proud of our defense for stepping up, and I’m proud of Degraff for stepping up," Luttrell said.
Degraff will need to continue to step it up as it appears that Chewning may be lost for the year due to the injury.
"Overcoming adversity reveals the type of team you are," Luttrell said.
That revelation will come next Friday when the War Eagles play host to subregion leader North Hall.
"This loss isn’t the end of the world," Luttrell said. "But there’s no way we’re going to underestimate the loss."
While Chestatee still has two crucial subregion games remaining against the Trojans and Creekview, the Warriors have no control of their playoff destiny but remain focused on winning out.
"We just have to keep it going one at a time," Segraves said. "Win is all we can do."