WESTMORELAND — An explosive third quarter put the finishing touches on the District 9-AA football championship Friday night as the White House Blue Devils left Westmoreland a 28-13 winner.
The B.D.P. boys advanced to 7-1, 5-0 for the season and clinched a home game in the opening round of the Class 4-A playoffs. White House maintained its ranking as the 12th-best scoring defense in the entire state of Tennessee, allowing just 9.9 points per contest. Westmoreland fell to 6-2, 3-1.
“This was emotional win for our football team, and we are thankful to have the opportunity to play for a championship and come out with a win,” said White House head coach Jeff Porter, whose team last won back-to-back titles in 1997-98. “In fall practice, we had concerns about moving the football, and being able to score, and what happened tonight is a credit to our kids.”
Senior Alex Felts rushed 31 times for 128 yards and three touchdowns, but early on the hosts looked to be the ones lighting up the scoreboard. Westmoreland scored on the opening possession of the game with a 25-yard touchdown pass on fourth down by Justice Graves, and by the second quarter he had 140 yards passing.
Graves ended the game with just 144, and he was not able to get a first down the entire third period after White House forced a 7-7 halftime tie. The key play was a first quarter interception, as Graves rolled right, scrambled left and then was picked off by junior Josh Mullins of White House at the 18-yard-line. Instead of a 14-0 lead, the Eagles suddenly were on their heels.
The game was tied up when after a White House punt, Patrick French fumbled on a tackle by Blaiz Phillips and Emmett Cannon picked up the miscue. A few minutes later, Bailey Burns tied the game with his only touchdown run and Dillon Anderson kicked the first of four extra points.
Burns topped the defense at linebacker with 12 tackles, and Taylor Wood added 10. Burns carried 10 times for 64 yards on offense as White House racked up 283 yards on the ground. Burns made three straight tackles in the third quarter including a tackle for loss, single-handedly forcing a punt.
But the momentum essentially turned on a tough ending to the first half. Tied 7-7, White House was the beneficiary of a targeting-style pass interference call when Jay Wright slammed Mullins across the middle on an incomplete pass with 12 seconds left. Ryan Pool ran the ball to the Westmoreland 20, but White House called timeout and the half expired.
While the crowd, coaches and players wondered if time would be placed back on the clock, officials ruled the half over. The Blue Devils emerged from the locker room and scored on three straight possessions.
Felts ended them all, the last of which a barricade-breaking run that nearly resulted in a fumble. When Denis Schaffer blocked a Westmoreland punt, Felts battered two tacklers for a 25-yard run, despite juggling the football three times inside the five.
Westmoreland added a late touchdown, but White House was in full control, and held the ball for over 30 minutes in the contest. The Eagles turned it over twice, and White House refused to turn it over for the fourth straight game, now at 12-over for the season.
The Blue Devils travel to Cheatham County in week nine, having locked up the tiebreakers in the district. The team and fans gathered on the practice field behind WHHS Friday night to put up the new champions sign.
White House is coming off three straight trips to the Class 4-A quarterfinals.