Connection: Devils use big plays to shed Patriots passing game

tanner jordanBy Kris Freeman for The White House Connection

Photo by Tommy Rouse: Tanner Jordan (22) of White House returns a kickoff against Page Friday night.

WHITE HOUSE – The only thing Alex Lyon left off his schedule Friday night was selling concessions.

The senior – in his first full-year of football – rushed eight times for 144 yards and a touchdown, completed 3-of-4 passes for 33 yards and made five tackles with three pass break-ups in a 35-25 opening round victory for White House (9-2) at home over Page (5-6). White House hosts Lexington (9-2) Friday after the Tigers beat Greenbrier, 21-0.

Every bit of the athleticism by Lyon was needed, as the Patriots offense cashed in for 476 total yards, including a brilliant performance by senior quarterback Zack Mizell. The visiting signal caller struck for 31-of-54 passes for 424 yards with a touchdown and an interception, nearly leading Page back from the dead in the final few minutes.

But that’s when the resilient Blue Devils kicked into gear, scoring twice on big plays to ice the game. Lyon’s 57-yard run for a score made it 28-18 after Page’s Mason Fluey missed a game-tying 27-yard field goal. Then Alex Felts scampered for 17 yards into the endzone but not without excitement, fumbling at the 4-yard-line and falling on the ball for a touchdown to make it 35-18.

Page wasn’t done, marching down the field and scoring on a pass from Mizell to Corey Bunn. Then with one minute left, Bailey Breckenridge recovered an onside kick and Page moved into the red zone again.

That’s when the White House defense forced its third turnover of the night, and it was the nail in the coffin. Mizell threw into the right flat where John Castleman dove toward the endzone in the right corner. But sophomore Denis Schaffer lodged the ball loose on a hard tackle and the football exited the side of the endzone for a touchback.

Felts ran one play to run out the clock, and the seven-yard rush gave the Blue Devils two 100-yard backs for the game. Felts had 23 carries for 103 yards. Sophomore Trey Hyde, who has missed much of the season to injury, rushed five times for 23 yards but impressed the home fans with a brilliant six-yard run for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Senior quarterback Ryan Pool tied the game on the first play of the second quarter with a one-yard touchdown sneak, and then gave White House a 14-7 lead on a 22-yard strike to senior tight end Wesley James, who leaped backwards between a defender’s hands to grab the spectacular catch in the left corner of the endzone.

Dillon Anderson hit all five extra points in the game, and the only special teams miscue was by the Patriots on the field goal missed wide right in the fourth quarter.

Matt Formero caught nine passes for 171 yards for Page, with Tyler Thieman hauling in six for 80 and Michael Roberts and Bonn each catching four. Nine different players caught a pass for Page and 11 different receivers were targeted during the game.

Both teams had two turnovers plus the Page fumble though the endzone, but those four turnovers marred what was a very clean game except a two-minute stretch in the fourth quarter when Tyler Ellis forced a Page fumble recovered by Taylor Wood, then Pool was intercepted by Parker Easterling two plays later. White House took it back when Josh Mullins picked off Mizell, and then White House’s Felts fumbled the ball back.

The sequence of turnovers strangely ended with a missed kick, leaving White House ahead 21-18 with 7:00 left in the game.

Mullins had three catches for the Blue Devils for 39 yards, including a 37-yard wide-open throw from Luke Hopkins on fourth down in the third quarter, leading to the Hyde touchdown. The fake punt left White House 2-for-2 on fourth down, as the Devils continue to convert 70 percent on fourth down for the season.

Wood had a fumble recovery 11 tackles, giving the team leader 333 for his career. The all-time record at White House is 357 by Kevin Jackson. Mullins had nine stops, an interception and two pass break-ups, and Schaffer added nine tackles and a forced fumble. Zach Baldwin had two sacks and missed a chance at two more, and Ellis had an impressive showing with four tackles, a forced fumble, and a devastating hit on Thieman in the fourth quarter to break up a pass.

Note: It was the first time since 2007 that two backs for White House rushed for 100 yards in the same game. DeMarqus Payne and Bryan Dixon did it three times, versus Macon County, Springfield and in the postseason against Polk County.

Note: White House is 9-1 in second round games since 2000 and has made 15 appearances in the quarterfinals under head coach Jeff Porter.

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