Springfield senior Cale Jones sported a bruise on his left forearm after Friday’s game against White House Heritage.
But Jones didn’t mind.
That bruise was caused by his block of Hunter Ward’s 29-yard field goal attempt with 20 seconds remaining. The Yellow Jackets held on for a 42-41 home victory to keep their Highway 76 bragging rights.
“Ever since last year, I’ve blocked some (kicks),” said Jones, who blocked an extra point and a field goal in a 21-15 win over Clarksville Aug. 30. “They’ve always had me on the edge to try to get to the ball. Sometimes it’s successful, but sometimes it’s not. It was either win or lose (against Heritage).”
Springfield and White House Heritage are separated by just 10 miles on Highway 76, creating a natural rivalry even though Friday’s game was just the third meeting between the two programs.
The Yellow Jackets (2-1) dominated the first two matchups by a combined score of 70-8 after blowout wins in 2017 and 2018. But Springfield coach Dustin Wilson knew to be weary of the Patriots.
“(Heritage) was 2-0 and had a lot of confidence,” he said. “We knew we couldn’t underestimate that. We’re the defending region champs, and we’re going to get everybody’s best shot.”
White House Heritage (2-1) showed why it could be a playoff contender by matching Springfield’s offense stride-for-stride in a game that resembled a track meet at times. The teams combined for 926 yards of total offense.
“I was expecting a slugfest and a Big 12 game broke out,” Heritage coach Stetson Dickerson said. “Every time we got knocked down, we got back up. We talked all week that if we played hard enough and well enough, we would have a shot to win in the fourth quarter.”
The Patriots jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard pass from Will Wilson to Trenton Tuttle. That duo later hooked up for two more scores – one from 28 yards out and the other from 33 yards out.
Wilson finished 11-of-17 passing for 150 yards and four touchdowns. Tight end Steven Hensley caught Wilson’s other touchdown on a 3-yard reception in the third quarter.
But Heritage’s 7-0 lead in the first was the only advantage it held the entire night. Springfield sophomore Kevarius Smith evened the score with a 20-yard rushing TD in the first quarter.
From there, senior RB Kevontay White took over. He rushed for 186 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries despite battling a nagging injury. He was primarily used on defense last season while playing behind Lindsey Wilson signee Keith Jones.
“(White) ran up and down the field all night long,” Wilson said. “If you put a gauge on toughness, he’d be at the top of that list. He’ll be alright, and he showed that tonight.”
Springfield’s other two touchdowns came from Kevontez Hudson, who again split QB reps with junior Austyn Day. Hudson found senior Mikie Neal on a shovel pass in the second quarter, and Neal took it 33 yards to the end zone. On Springfield’s next possession, Hudson ran for a 76-yard touchdown with 2:58 left before halftime.
The kicking game ultimately made the difference. Springfield junior Luis Diaz made all six of his extra point attempts, while Ward had an extra point blocked in the second quarter.
Jones was the star at the end. On third down with 24 seconds remaining, Jones broke up a Wilson pass intended for Tuttle in the end zone. He then blocked Ward’s field goal attempt on the next play.
“You can say what you want about the defense, but they (made stops) when it counted,” Wilson said. “They got off the field at the most important times.”
Parker Deaton led the Patriots with 179 rushing yards and a TD on 27 carries. Jackson Mapes added 109 and a TD on 19 carries. Tuttle finished with five catches for 79 yards.
For Springfield, Hudson supplemented White’s big night with seven carries for 120 yards. Neal and Keyshawn Robinson each had two catches for 38 yards. Day was 7-of-11 passing for 95 yards.
Heritage rolled to wins over MTCS and East Robertson to open the season after going 1-9 in 2018. But the Patriots showed significant progress in Friday’s nail-biting loss to Springfield.
“It was good for our kids to see that they’re able to go out and compete for four quarters against a good football team,” Dickerson said. “We have to keep moving forward and not let this (loss) slow down what we’re trying to do.”
Springfield will travel to Station Camp (0-3) on Friday, while Heritage is set to host Sycamore (2-1) for Homecoming. Both games kick off at 7 p.m.