WHITE HOUSE- It had been four years since White House Heritage last won a region game, but that changed on Friday night as they fought back to beat Portland 35-31.
White House Heritage (4-2, 1-2) came within a point in both of their region 5-4A losses this season, but coach Stetson Dickerson’s team saw all its work finally pay off against the Panthers. The
“(The Greenbrier loss) last week stung to our football team,” Dickerson said. “Early in the second half we took some punches right to the face, and we got off the mat. That was fun to watch.
“It’s been a long time, and they’ve put in a lot of work. They’ve had to endure a lot of hardships, but it’s really good to see the fruits of their labor.”
Portland (3-3, 2-1) held a seemingly commanding 10-point lead midway through the final quarter of play, but the Patriots answered quickly. Will Wilson tossed his third touchdown pass of the night, finding Trent Tuttle for a 24-yard score.
A Panther fumble on the ensuring drive shifted the momentum into White House Heritage’s favor. The Patriots capitalized with a three-yard run from Jackson Mapes to take a 35-31 lead with just 53 seconds left.
For the Panthers, they’ve now suffered consecutive tough losses behind some untimely turnovers. Portland fell to West Creek 51-50 on Sept. 20.
“I thought we had control of the game up 10 with the football, moving the ball and then we fumble the ball and the whole momentum changes, and we (couldn’t_ get it back,” Portland coach Greg Cavanah said.
“Turnovers are going to kill you. We gave up points on turnovers last week. We gave up points on turnovers this week. This late in the season, turnovers are just going to kill you.”
The two sides traded scores early in the game and were tied at 21 at halftime.
The Panthers controlled things early in the second half, building their 10-point lead behind a run from Caleb Mandrell and Jovie Lugo field goal.
Despite the 31 points allowed and 360 yards of offense from the Panthers, Dickerson was pleased with the effort he saw from his defense compared to last week.
“We played really well early,” Dickerson said. “We knew it was going to be a battle. We knew they were going to score some points. We played with much better effort for four quarters defensively tonight.”
Wilson led the way for the Patriot offense, finishing 13-of-20 passing for 203 yards to go along with his three touchdowns. He also added 41 yards on the ground.
Tuttle had five catches for 99 yards, and Timmy Freel hauled in seven passes for 97 yards. Parker Deaton rushed for 41 yards on 12 carries.
“We’ve kind of taken the training wheels off with Will a little bit,” Dickerson said. “Will makes good decisions. He does a good job.”
White House Heritage will look to continue its momentum next week in a Region 5-4A matchup at Creek Wood. Portland hosts rival White House for Homecoming.