By Andy Telli for The White House Connection
The White House Heritage Patriots pounded their way to a 14-7 victory over cross-town rival White House on Friday in the 2016 season opener for both teams.
“I’ve got a group of guys I love,” said Heritage Coach Hunter Hicks. “They went to war tonight.”
The Patriots dominated the line of scrimmage and the time of possession for most of the game, while piling up a rushing advantage of 178 yards to 92. In the first half, White House was held to 20 yards rushing and ran only 15 offensive plays to Heritage’s 46.
“The whole game we got behind the sticks too much,” White House Coach Jeff Porter said. “They had a lot to do with that.”
Heritage was able to follow its game plan, “Run the ball, control the ball, get physical with them,” Hicks said.
Key to the plan’s success was the Patriots’ offensive line. “That’s our core,” Hicks said of the unit. “They’ve been waiting for their turn. They’re hungry.”
Heritage opened the game by driving from their own 31 to White House’s 22, where the Patriots faced a fourth and 10. White House senior defensive end Danny Stoutt ended the drive by sacking Heritage quarterback Austin Gunter.
On their next drive, the Patriots wouldn’t be denied, moving the ball 57 yards in 12 plays. Sophomore running back Tommy Baker carried the ball the final two yards into the end zone as the Patriots took a 7-0 lead as the first quarter came to a close.
White House’s offense came to life on the Blue Devils’ next drive as sophomore quarterback Andrew Nixon found fellow sophomore Cameron Casanova behind the Heritage defense with a 58-yard scoring toss that tied the game at 7-7. Nixon’s pass fell just beyond the reach of Heritage defensive back Zach Capello into the waiting arms of Casanova, who then outraced the Heritage defense to the end zone.
Heritage reclaimed the lead on a three-yard run by senior Chris Rippy as the first half came to a close. The drive was highlighted by Gunter passes that covered 14 yards to Nick Desmarais and 16 and 12 yards to Rippy. For the game, Gunter completed eight of 12 passes for 93 yards.
In the second half, White House’s moved the ball more successfully behind the running of senior Preston Long, who finished the game with a team high 67 yards rushing, including a 39-yard, tackle-busting rumble in the third quarter. But neither team could score in the second half.
The Blue Devils’ last chance to tie the score came when they took over the ball on their own 41 yard line with 7:19 left. But the drive stalled after three penalties.
“Too many mistakes,” Porter said. “We’ve got to try to be better next week than we were tonight.”
Heritage took over the ball at its own 31 yard line with 4:55 left and refused to give it up. The Patriots drove the ball to the White House 1-yard-line with 34 seconds left when they went into the victory formation for the game’s final plays.
On the final drive, Rippy carried the ball seven of the first 10 plays, including five in a row. “He’s earned it,” Hicks said of Rippy. “You give it to your main man. He’s got a heart bigger than anybody.”
“I count myself as a leader. I wanted the ball,” Rippy said of the final drive.
“We knew it was a big game,” Rippy added. “Losing to them last year gave me motivation.”
Rippy finished with a game high 98 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, 45 yards on four receptions, and several pass breakups as a defensive back, including one in the end zone preventing a White House touchdown.
“I knew I had to bat the ball down,” Rippy said. “They labeled me Rippy Island, so I had to show I deserved it.”
After the game, Porter, the coaching veteran, congratulated Hicks on earning the first victory of his head coaching career.
“It’s awesome,” Hicks said of his first win. “I woke up this morning and my wife told me to enjoy the day. … You only have one first game. Enjoy it. …
“It got me through the day,” Hicks said.
Next Friday, Heritage hosts Nashville Christian, while White House hosts Goodpasture.