WHITE HOUSE – A methodical drive ended with a flurry Friday night as Alex Lyon burst through the Lexington line of scrimmage for a 30-yard touchdown to lift White House to a 21-14 win with 37 seconds remaining.
The Blue Devils advanced to the Class 4-A quarterfinals for the fourth straight season after rallying from a seven-point deficit to beat the Tigers. Lyon had a monster night, rushing 13 times for 106 yards, completing 2-of-3 passes, catching a pass for 22 yards, returning two kicks, made six tackles and picked off a pass on defense. He even took a first quarter sack for a loss of 15. It is Lyon’s first year of football for the senior, three-sport athlete.
“The game experience helps any player get better and he has continued to improve each and every game of the season,” said White House head coach Jeff Porter. “You have to give credit to our offensive line, and to Coach (Ryan) Hamilton for protecting Alex throughout the year creatively and not allowing his body to get beat up.
“That was just a great play.”
Even scoring the game winner, it was not the biggest play of the game.
Lexington jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the opening drive, then pushed the ball into the red zone in the second quarter. But when quarterback Tylan Johnson handed to Tanner Kizer, he was stripped by Blaiz Phillips in the middle of the line and Trey Hyde recovered. White House responded with a 10-play, 83-yard drive to tie the game at halftime when Alex Felts scored from five-yards out. Felts had 23 carries for 69 yards.
“That was the critical play of the game,” Porter said. “To get a fumble and put a drive together – it changes everything. The game drastically changes if we are down two scores.”
White House took a 14-7 lead in the third when Ryan Pool connected with Josh Mullins for 64 yards and the longest play from scrimmage for White House this season. Pool was 4-of-4 for 104 yards and a touchdown. Mullins caught three passes for 73 yards.
But Lexington responded, with 10 plays for 71 yards to tie it up on an 11-yard run by Tariqious Tisdale in the third quarter.
White House missed a 52-yard field goal in the fourth, but the touchback led to a three-and-out to set up the final scoring drive.
“I thought he could make it and just didn’t feel like it was the right time to go for it there,” Porter said of the miss by Dillon Anderson that was short and left. “But we knew this was going to be a game of limited possessions and our defense did a great job of taking advantage of the field position so we could put together a drive.”
That’s when Porter and his team made the most critical call of the night. With six minutes left, the Blue Devils started at their own 26. Facing 4th-and-1 at the 35, this time the Blue Devils went for it.
Lyon took the wildcat snap and swept right with lead blocker Taylor Wood. But linebacker Wilbert Jefferson beat his man at the line and got into the backfield, and Lyon sidestepped the tackle to convert the first down.
Seven plays later, the Blue Devils were in the endzone. Tyler Ellis picked off Tylan Johnson with two seconds left to seal the victory.
“That was big, and we had an opportunity on fourth down and converted and made the play,” Porter said.
The box score was almost dead even. White House led in first down, 16-13, and total yards, 286-251. The teams combined for 13-of-22 on third and fourth down and punted just three times total. The difference was a limit of big plays by White House and three turnovers created.
Kizer had 93 yards rushing and Johnson added 70. Tisdale was held to 37, and the Tigers completed just 4-of-8 passing for 37 yards and two interceptions.
“We had trouble with the quarterback, but fortunately we had a great call on third down on the last drive where we slanted to the set back side and anticipated him rolling to that side,” Porter noted. “One of their biggest plays all year has been trap and power lead and our defense did a good job trying to take that away.”
Lexington finished 9-3. White House is at home Friday against Giles County (10-2).
Taylor Wood led the defense with 16 tackles, and is eight tackles short of Kevin Jackson’s career record of 357.