WH fumbles away the fourth quarter

By Kris Freeman for the White House Tribune

(Photo by Justin Goff)

(Pleasant View) – Three quarters of shutout football by War Eagles and three fumbles in the fourth quarter by White House proved costly, as Sycamore knocked off White House, 25-18, to drop the Blue Devils to 5-5 (4-1). Sycamore finished third in District 9-AA at 7-3 (3-2).

“You can’t expect to win a football game fumbling three times in the fourth quarter,” said White House head coach Jeff Porter. “Now, everything is 0-0. We are not guaranteed anything but this week on the practice field and we have to earn our way back there next week.”

White House will host Chester County at 7 p.m. in the first round of Class 4-A. A loss, however, would mean the first official losing season for White House since 1981. Only twice have the Blue Devils finished 5-5 and made the playoffs, but in both cases (1987 and 2005) won their first-round game.

Grant Wicker rushed 34 times for 144 yards and a touchdown Friday night. Taylor Wood adding a rushing touchdown, and Chase Dunlap a field goal. But those highlights came in an 18-point opening quarter. The rain hit, and the points stopped.

Sycamore marched 11 plays and 80 yards into the wind on the first series, with Jimmie Baggett breaking a 29-yard run for a 6-0 lead. White House responded with a five-play, 60-yard drive to take a 7-6 edge led by a 51-yard pass play from Ryan Pool to Chris Mullins.

Troy Raymond broke through the line and helped force a botched Sycamore punt on a bad snap. Chris Mullins fielded it at the Sycamore 30 after a short kick. Three plays later, Wicker scored and got the two-point conversion for a 15-6 lead. Dunlap kicked a 43-yard field goal before the quarter expired to make it 18-6.

Facing 4th-and-1 at midfield in the second quarter, White House failed on a rush to turn the ball over on downs. That moment proved critical as the War Eagles drove it nine plays and 52 yards for the touchdown before half and an 18-12 score.

Sycamore finally took the lead in the fourth following the second White House fumble. Taking over at the Blue Devils’ 41, Sycamore drove 10 plays to edge ahead on the extra point, 19-18.

White House again failed on downs, but facing 1:27 left on the clock and a deficit, the Blue Devils defense surrendered a 39-yard run to Dillon Bright – but Ethan Hoffman gave them life with a blocked extra point.

With no timeouts, White House drove the field. From the Sycamore 46 on first down, Chris Mullins found his brother Josh on a double pass inside the Sycamore 20. But the younger Mullins had the ball stripped on the tackle, and the game was over when Sycamore recovered with 19 seconds left.

Sycamore led in total yards, 312-240 and was 6-of-14 on third down and 3-of-3 on fourth down in the game. White House gained just eight first downs and struggled on conversions with 4-of-11 on third down and 0-of-2 on fourth.

Taylor Wood had 13 tackles for the Blue Devils, followed by Ethan Hoffman with 12 and  pass break-up, and Wesley James with eight. James also had a forced fumble on a sack, and Zach Morris picked up a fumble recovery.

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