By Kris Freeman for White House High School
WHITE HOUSE – When Franklin Road Academy lined it up with White House for the first time in 36 years, 48 minutes wasn’t enough to decide the winner.
David DeRoucher found Jackson Cummiskey on a 25-yard fade route to the left corner of the end zone in double overtime, giving the Panthers a 20-14 walk-off celebration over the Blue Devils.
Both teams were scoreless through the first overtime, when FRA was stopped on fourth and goal and White House threw an interception on first down. But when the Blue Devils came inches short of scoring in the second overtime on fourth down, DeRoucher rallied his team from a huge penalty that backed the ball up to the 24-yard-line. The Panthers finally cashed in on a night where both teams combined for seven trips into the red zone without points.
White House (1-2) led 14-0 in the second quarter on a two-yard touchdown run by junior Montrel Black, and a 15-yard pick six by senior Drew Ferrell. FRA (1-0) recovered to cut the lead to 14-7 at the half and then tie the game on the first drive of the third quarter.
DeRoucher passed 11-of-24 for 175 yards and two touchdowns, but three interceptions proved to keep the game close. The Panthers twice were picked off by White House junior Reece McAfee, and then Ferrell took a tipped pass out of the air in the second quarter to rumble to the end zone and give White House a 14-0 lead at the time.
Senior Evan Shankle led the Blue Devils with nine tackles and three quarterback hurries and passes broken up, and the Blue Devils added four defensive sacks.
With a 14-0 lead, the game took an interesting turn at the end of the first half on the Blue Devils southern end of the field. FRA marched 13 plays and 59 yards, but Jack Norris missed a field goal wide right. The Blue Devils gave it right back on a fumble, and then DeRoucher was picked off by McAfee on the goal line. White House again failed to move the ball inside the final two minutes and fumbled a second time, and the third time was the charm for the Panthers.
DeRoucher found Tyler Speed for 10 yards and Norris kick made it 14-7 at the half.
White House took the lead in the first quarter on a 12-play, 60-yard drive to open the game when Black scored. But the start of the second half proved to be the swing point of the contest.
Bryson Harper attempted a surprise onside kick, but the Panthers recovered. FRA connected on two consecutive big plays, and the second was a 25-yard catch by Justin Moore to tie the game.
Both teams went back and forth in the third quarter with a 14-14 score, before White House took control of the clock and the ball to try and win the game.
Ranen Blackburn rushed 37 times for 142 yards in the game, going over the century mark for the third straight game to start the year. But on a monumental march, White House went 15 plays and 57 yards and took 9:25 off the clock in the fourth quarter, and still fell short on fourth down in the red zone.
FRA took over with 3:07 left, and despite a big throw from DeRoucher to Moore on third down, the White House defense held tight with sacks by Cade Holliday, Montrel Black and ultimately Rhys Blackburn on fourth down to halt the final chance for the Panthers.
White House got the ball one last time but could not advance the ball to send it to overtime.
The Blue Devils won the toss, and elected defense. DeRoucher was crunched on a second down run by Shankle and McAfee, and the Panthers threw incomplete on third down before Black made a crucial fourth down stop inside the five of the quarterback.
Needing any points to win, White House went for the home run on the first play and a route mix up proved costly, as Moore picked off Blackburn on a pass to the middle of the end zone. Blackburn appeared to be running out of the wildcat and then stopped and launched a jump pass intended for McAfee.
The Devils had it first in the second overtime, but Blackburn’s final push to the goal line on fourth down was inches short.
Jeffrey Vercher had 13 carries for 48 yards in the game, but a critical clipping penalty on his eight-yard run on first down put the ball at the 24. The Devils stopped the run again for a one-yard loss, then senior Layne Jenkins broke up a post route pass in the middle of the field on second down.
After a timeout and facing third and goal at the 25, DeRoucher slung the deep fade to Cummiskey who leaped above his defender and got two feet in for the 20-14 victory.
White House had 222 yards of total offense, with Blackburn and freshman Bryce Hill combining for 3-of-9 passing for 47 yards. McAfee had all three receptions. White House was just 3-of-11 on third down and 3-of-6 on fourth down and failed four times inside the red zone without points. The Blue Devils were plagued with 10 penalties for 81 yards, the majority of which five-yard infractions for illegal procedure.
FRA netted 242 yards of total offense, with 175 through the air. The Panthers had just six penalties and were 2-of-9 on third down and 0-2 on fourth down. The Panthers also failed three times in the red zone and each team had three turnovers. White House had four fumbles, losing two, plus an interception, and FRA did not fumble but threw three picks.
Black had eight tackles, one sack and four tackles for losses. Ferrell had six tackles, an interception for a touchdown, and a sack with two tackles for losses. Pierce Scholato, Rhys Blackburn and Holliday all had seven tackles each.
White House travels to Springfield Friday to open Region 5-4A play at the Yellow Jackets.