By Kris Freeman
Sports Information Director, White House High School
NASHVILLE -- Looking at the box score halfway through the second quarter, worry might have set in for fans of the White House Blue Devils, but stats can be deceptive.
The Devils' defense had five interceptions, two pick-six touchdowns, a blocked punt and allowed only 49 yards of offense in the first half, en route to a six-touchdown lead and a 42-7 win at Hunters Lane. The Warriors scored on the final play of the game.
The White House offense was only on the field for 18 minutes of the game, a majority being backup players in the second half.
"The positive is we got to play a lot of kids for the third time this year," White House head coach Jeff Porter said. "But the main thing you take away from a game like this is it's always great to see your kids happy and be able to celebrate a win. Despite not having many offensive plays, coach (Ryan) Hamilton did a good job of spreading the ball around."
Meanwhile, the Devils offense was efficient, but short-lived in the opening 24 minutes, on the field for just five minutes, scoring three short rushing touchdowns and a passing strike from Andrew Nixon to Cameron Casanova for 19 yards. Will Frazer dropped in two, one-yard touchdown runs and Carter Hunt plunged in once from a yard away.
Nixon was 5-of-6 passing for 75 yards and a touchdown and Frazer rushed five times for 25 yards. Casanova caught two passes for 22 yards and a score, and Curtis Palmer, Frazer and Logan Neufeld each had one catch. Neufeld hauled in a 43-yard catch and a 35-yard punt return - both to set up scores.
The excitement was on defense, as Seth Bumbalough intercepted two Sylvester Buford passes at the 25 and 35 respectively, returning both for touchdowns in the first quarter. Preston Sharber also had two interceptions and returned them for 53 yards, and Kevin James made a leaping pick for the fifth turnover of the night. White House forced five interceptions on seven throws by Buford, who never completed a pass. Sharber also blocked a punt and each time he contributed it set up a Blue Devils touchdown.
White House set up four defensive touchdowns, and two on special teams. The only time in the first half the Devils did not convert after a miscue was running out the clock before halftime following a James interception in the end zone for a touchback.
"It's always been a defensive goal at White House to score or set up a score during the course of a game," Porter said. "But I don't know that I have seen a game where nearly every single scoring opportunity was made or created by the defense when we score that many points. It makes for a short field and that's the opportunities we want to create.
"Obviously, when you have turnovers it creates excitement on our side and develops momentum and really puts the pressure on them."
Uncharacteristically for this season, White House did not have a sack. However, Buford was forced out of the pocket and three of the five interceptions were high throws picked off when the defender changed direction and set up under the ball.
"That's really what we wanted to do, is put pressure on the quarterback and make him get rid of the ball quickly," he added. "Obviously, they have a height advantage so it helps us when we can get a good read and we did that well."
Hunters Lane led in total offense, 156-142 and had more first downs and dominated time of possession. However, the Blue Devils allowed just 2-of-11 third down conversions and remained perfect in the red zone for the season.
White House heads home for a showdown anticipated since the beginning of the season. The Blue Devils take on long-time rival Springfield in Week 5 at Dewey H. Whitson Stadium, with the winner in the driver's seat atop Region 5-4A with unbeaten Greenbrier. Springfield is 3-1 with an opening week loss to Gallatin.
White House and Springfield have played 29 times and the Blue Devils lead the all-time series, 15-14.
"They are always going to be very athletic, very physical, and this is a very disciplined and fundamental football team," Porter said. "This is going to be a challenge from start to finish and we have our work cut out for us this week to prepare and be ready to play. They have been to the quarterfinals the last two years and they are certainly the favorite to win the region."