CLEVELAND – For the second consecutive year White County got the best of Chestatee.
And it did so in convincing fashion.
Behind the running back tandem of Ashely Lowery and Blake Limbaugh, the Warriors reeled off 317 yards on the ground en route to a 41-21 victory over Chestatee on Friday in Cleveland.
The win comes a year after the Warriors (3-4, 1-2 Region 7A-AAA) beat Chestatee (4-3, 2-1) on its homecoming night, which prevented the War Eagles from reaching the playoffs. It also halted a two-game losing streak for White County, and ended Chestatee’s three-game win streak.
"We were in a position where we lost our confidence," White County coach Gregg Segraves said of his team. "I didn’t know what to expect tonight."
What he got was an outstanding night running the ball, especially by the sophomore Lowery, who rushed for 193 yards and three touchdowns in the win.
"Everywhere I looked there was a hole," Lowery said. "I just followed the lead blocker and took off."
That concept led to long touchdown runs on two separate occasions.
First was a 59-yard touchdown run on the Warriors’ first possession of the second half that increased the White County lead to 27-14. Less than 10 second later, Chestatee’s Ben Souther (116 yards rushing) took the ensuing kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown.
"We were challenging No. 7 (Souther) and he’s a good one," Segraves said. "He took the challenge and made us pay for it."
As the momentum started shifting to Chestatee, Lowery came up with his second big run of the night, this time a 55-yard scamper that put the Warriors back up by two scores.
Souther nearly made the Warriors pay again during Chestatee’s next possession, but the junior running back fumbled a would-be touchdown through the end zone, giving the ball back to the home team.
"We were right in the game until that fumble," Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell said. "That was when we went from being in the game to down three scores."
That fumble was one of five Chestatee turnovers, and the first of four giveaways in the second half.
"We just gotta learn from this," Luttrell said. "I don’t think our guys gave up and they played hard all the way until the end.
"We’ll have to learn from this and get ready for North Hall."
The loss to White County amplifies the War Eagles’ game with North Hall next Friday. A win over the Trojans, and Chestatee would be back in control of its playoff destiny. A loss could send the War Eagles back into the situation they faced a year ago: Losing to White County and missing the playoffs.
The win over Chestatee gives some life back to White County’s playoff hopes, but according to Segraves, the postseason is far from his team’s mind.
"We’re not even talking about that anymore," he said of the team’s playoff aspirations. "We got Lumpkin County next week and then one after that, and then one after that. We’re not even thinking about the playoffs right now."
Chestatee caught a break in the first quarter during White County’s first possession. With the Warriors on Chestatee’s 30-yard line, the ensuing snap sailed over the head of Segraves. Both Segraves and Chestatee’s Jeremy Wilkens dove for the ball but failed to gain control. Chestatee linebacker Chase Vasser, who had nine tackles on the night, scooped the ball off the turf and rumbled 50 yards for the touchdown.
That early lead didn’t last long, as White County answered with a pair of touchdown runs by Limbaugh to take a 14-7 lead.
After Souther scored on a 19-yard run, the Warriors took momentum heading into halftime, as Chantz Segraves found a wide-open Tyler Nation for a 19-yard touchdown that gave White County a 21-14 lead.