By Kris Freeman for Main Street Media and the Robertson County Connection
WHITE HOUSE – Making its first trip to White House in 34 years, Trousdale County wasted no time in asserting its authority on the ground Thursday night and rumbled to a 34-14 victory at Dewey H. Whitson Stadium.
Originally scheduled as a contest against Glencliff, the TSSAA perennial playoff contenders squared off in a rare meeting after the Colts cancelled the game with White House this summer.
The two traditional run-heavy programs did not disappoint on the ground, but before the Blue Devils could gain any momentum, the Yellow Jackets built a 27-0 lead by the third quarter. After White House won the toss, took the ball and punted, Trousdale’s Bryson Claiborne went 66 yards on the first offensive play for the guests and Heath Chasse’s extra point made it 7-0.
Both teams are now 1-1 for the season with Trousdale County clashing next week with Watertown, while White House has a week off and then prepares to replace Hunters Lane on the schedule in week four as Davidson County has yet to begin football operations.
“They are a tradition-rich football program and they came out and did everything we expected them to do,” said White House head coach Ryan Hamilton. “We have to be ready to play. Our kids played four quarters and that’s a good football team, but there are things we could do better but we will be a better football team for playing them.”
TCHS pounded the football for 309 total yards, all but five rushing, and Jordan Pickett and Claiborne each had over 100 yards on the ground. Claiborne was the big play specialist with just five carries for 109 yards, but three of those were touchdowns. Pickett pounded the middle of the line 17 times for 123 yards. Brian Banks added 32 yards and a score, and Sebastian Linarez had 36.
The big play early was critical. but the White House defense answered the call to keep it a seven-point game in the first quarter when the Blue Devils forced a four-down goal line stand and Layne Jenkins recovered a fumble. The same thing happened again in the fourth quarter as White House denied Trousdale County two series inside the one-yard-line without a touchdown.
“Every team is different, but we didn’t roll over early and responded with the goal line stop and actually stopped them twice,” Hamilton. “But we are still a football time finding out who we are with an early season. It’s a process of finding the identity of our team without any scrimmages or anything, so we played a tough team early. But we have to cut down on some penalties and get better.”
Penalties were improved from week one, with White House only flagged six times for 65 yards. Four of those – including two on one play – came on long kick returns that moved field position from near midfield back inside the 30-yard-line each time. White House was also 2-8 on third down while the Yellow Jackets were 4-5.
But the critical sector of the game came in the second quarter with less than a minute to go when Linarez blocked a Bryson Harper and stole it out of mid-air to return it four yards for the touchdown. Despite missing the extra point, the Jackets led 20-0 at the half. Getting the ball to start the third, Jayden Hicks ran a kick return 80 yards to set up another Claiborne score and a 27-0 lead just seconds into the third quarter.
Junior tailback Ranen Blackburn, now 14th all-time rushing in program history, added another 100-yard game, but it took until a long drive in the third quarter to get the offense some momentum. Blackburn rushed 21 times for 127 yards and a touchdown, and completed just 3-of-11 passes for 70 yards and a score, all to Bryson Harper. Harper’s catch between two defenders in the third quarter finally put White House in the scoring column.
Blackburn added 10-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter with 11:53 left to make it the final margin, but a critical interception sealed the game as Claiborne snagged a short throw from Blackburn in the final period.
It was his ninth career 100-yard game on the ground. He was only the second tailback at White House to rush for over 100 yards against Trousdale County, joining Bryan Parchman with 110 yards on November 2, 1984.
The Jackets put pressure early and often on Blackburn in the pocket, even delivering a brilliant blitz and solid lick on the 20-yard touchdown pass to Harper. Trousdale County defensive backs also broke up four passes in mid-air.
White House got eight tackles from junior Pierce Scholato, and seven from juniors Reece McAfee and Bryson Harper. Senior linebacker Evan Shankle had five stops, but unfortunately for White House the majority of stops came in the defensive backfield.
Trousdale County averaged eight yards per carry and was only penalized once in the game.
White House now regroups with the week three bye, which is a tough time to stop momentum, but critical for the team to find an extra week of practice and prepare. Trousdale County and Watertown are favorites to contend for their respective region championship, and eyes from White House will be watching as the Purple Tigers are also on the schedule in week six.
“It’s a week that we can still practice and get better, but with the uncertainties of 2020, this is not a time you wanted to face having an off week right now,” Hamilton said. “But we will take this for what it is, and get back to the practice field and get better, and playing good teams like tonight is only going to help us forge an identity and find out who we are.”
Series: 9-3 Trousdale County
Trousdale County leads the overall series, 9-3, and this was the first meeting since 1986. White House had won three of the last four, as the two teams played most of the games in the early days of the two football program’s histories, starting in 1944.
Out of the 12 meetings, six times the opponent had been shut out.
Photos by Brooklyn Sharber and Sarah Wright