CLEVELAND — On a rainy night at Warriors Stadium, the White County defense stood out and the offense did just enough to pull out a 17-7 win against Lumpkin County on Friday night.
The Warriors’ defensive game plan was clear: Make the Indians do the exact opposite of what they comfortable with.
Entering Friday night’s game, Lumpkin County was averaging 221 yards rushing per game.
The White County (5-3, 2-2 Region 7A-AAA) defense held the Indians to just 42 yards on the ground, 3 yards in the second half.
"We played really well defensively," White County coach Gregg Segraves said. "They held their ground and I’m just real proud of them."
Helping the defense was White County kicker Mark Bardenwarper, who put three of his four kickoffs into the end zone, giving the run-first Lumpkin County offense a long field to work with.
"He’s done a great job all year for us," Segraves said. "It makes it nice for the defense when you’ve got a kicker that can put it in the end zone."
On the bright side for the Indians (4-4, 1-3), a team that was averaging just 61 yards passing per game, quarterback Taylor Guthrie had his best outing of the season, passing for 141 yards a touchdown.
Despite his season-best performance, Lumpkin’s offensive output was marred by mistakes in the red zone.
With the score 3-0 White County on a 37-yard field goal by Bardenwarper, a 29-yard field goal attempt by the Indians’ Chris Lopez was blocked by Ashely Lowery and recovered by Adam Hooper.
After holding White County to a three-and-out on its first possession of the second half, Lumpkin County drove to the Warriors’ 2-yard line on a 22-play, 82-yard drive. But the Indians were held scoreless on a goal-line stand by the Warriors on second and third downs and a tipped pass in the end zone on fourth-and-2 by Rusty Rider.
"White County played a good football game," Lumpkin County coach Tommy Jones said. "We made too many mistakes to win.
"Any time you get the ball inside the 10 twice and can’t score, you aren’t going to win."
White County held a 10-0 halftime lead on Bardenwarper’s field goal and a 2-yard pass from Cole Segraves to Tyler Reeves.
Segraves, a freshman, finished the game 6-of-9 passing for 57 yards and touchdown and rushed for 12 yards.
Lumpkin County got to within three with five minutes left in the game. After the Indians’ special teams came through with a blocked punt recovered on the Warriors’ 30-yard line, Guthrie hit Ian McIntosh from 3 yards for the score.
The Indians had the momentum not just because of the score but also their defense, which held White County to 10 points while making the Warriors punt on all three of their second-half possessions. All told, the Lumpkin defense held White County to just 178 total.
White County running back Lowery, however, made sure they didn’t hold that momentum for long. On the Warriors’ ensuing possession, he broke loose for a 39-yard scoring run, hurdling two Indians’ defensive lineman to give his team a 10-point advantage that it would not relinquish.
"He’s been big for us all year," Segraves said. "(Lumpkin County) had the momentum and was playing well and he had a nice run.
"The offensive line was great on that play, too. They really opened it up for him."
Lowery finished as the game’s leading rusher with 69 yards and a touchdown.
Michael Flanagan was Lumpkin County’s leading rusher with 33 yards. Chad Fulton finished as the Indians’ leading receiver with three catches for 44 yards.