With North Hall seeking a late defensive stop, White County’s Kaleb Crane came through like he had all night running the ball. The Warriors’ running back finished the game with 199 yards and two-fourth quarter touchdowns in a 28-18 win Friday night at the Brickyard.
At the end, Crane had two of his biggest plays.
In a back-and-forth affair, the 205-pound Crane broke tackles for scores on consecutive possessions late in the fourth. The first was a 36-yard run on fourth and 15 to put the Warriors up 21-10 with 8 minutes, 30 seconds remaining.
After an 11-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a 7-yard touchdown run by North Hall’s Peyton Mavity, Crane and the Warriors came right back with their own 65-yard drive to put the game away. Crane hit a crease for an 18-yard score on fourth and 2 with just more than to minutes to play after both teams called multiple timeouts.
“This team has a lot of poise, and in rivalry games, things are going to happen,” first-year White County coach Tim Cokely said.
Crane had 26 carries as the workhorse, and freshman quarterback J. Ben Haynes completed 13 of 18 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. White County rushed for 223 yards overall, while North Hall had 146 yards behind Jack Brown (62), Mavity (47) and Cutter Sanford (32).
Trojans quarterback David Seavey completed 6 of 8 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown.
The Trojans (0-4) jumped out to a 10-0, first-quarter. Their first was a typical Wing-T drive that used up the first six minutes of game clock over 12 plays and 83 yards, ending in a field goal.
After a White County punt, North Hall scored a touchdown on a 68-yard strike via play-action pass from Seavey to Daniel Jackson with 2:30 left in the first quarter..
North Hall’s defense made its mark in the first quarter with four tackles for loss, including two sacks, as it held the Warriors to 55 total yards in the period. White County found some success moving Haynes out of the pocket in the second quarter, during which the quarterback completed 7 of 11 passes for 57 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown to Austin Rowland.
The score just before halftime gave the Warriors a lead they would not relinquish.
“What I think happened more than anything was we weren’t able to sustain drives,” North Hall coach David Bishop said of his team’s sluggish second quarter. “Most of our kids played on both sides of the ball, and not being able to sustain drives, along with a few penalties there, hurt us. (White County was) able to make a few plays and gain momentum.
“For us, we’re a ball control offense. You’ve got to control that ball. That’s just part of it.”
Penalties and punts marred the third quarter, but White County got going again in the final period. The Warriors scored on their first two drives as Crane ran for 105 yards on 11 carries, including those two incredible touchdown. The seniors also ripped off an 11-yard run on a third and 5, during which he bounced off multiple North Hall defenders.
“Everyone says it’s a stupid call, but it’s not if he’s the starting running back,” Cokely said of going for two fourth downs in the final period. “He’s that guy we’re going to win or lose with running the ball. He has a lot of desire. We had a lot of fight in the second half, and I’m really proud of the guys.”
Bishop was quick to take the blame for Crane’s back-breaking, 36-yard touchdown to make it a two-score game.
“We felt they were either going to kick a field goal or punt, so we told our kids to play in a prevent situation,” Bishop said. “But if they came back out and played offense, we were going to have to play defense. I think our kids may have been a little tentative there. Their kid made a great run that got us on our heels a little.”
White County (4-1) hosts Dawson County, next week while North Hall (0-4) hosts Fannin County in its first Region 7-3A game.
“There’s positives to it,” Bishop said of two consecutive close losses. “Our motto is about growth and winning everyday. None of this is about region play, which starts next week. I feel good about our team going into region play next week.”