Blue Devils outlast Portland in high-scoring affair
WHITE HOUSE – In a game filled with big plays, it was the one that didn’t happen that propelled White House to a 55-40 victory over visiting Portland.
With five seconds left in the first half and trailing by seven, Blue Devils Pierce Scholato and Rhys Blackburn stuffed Braylon Dowlen as the clock expired.
“The stand was huge to get momentum going in,” White House head coach Ryan Hamilton said. “We knew before, we need to score before half. We would get the ball back (to begin the second half) got to score that first drive coming out … getting that stop before half was huge, getting our kids to buy back in, focus back in, and correct those mistakes.”
An intense rivalry that goes back to 1945, the series was tied 26-26 entering the contest, and if recent woes for both teams have cooled the grudge held by both sides, it was not visible on Friday.
“It’s a big game, a rivalry game, it’s huge for our community,” Hamilton said. “You’ll get text messages all day from people about the game.”
As loud as the Blue Devil fans were early, they were drowned out early on the fifth play of the game when Freddie Paxton took a handoff to the right sideline and outraced everyone for 60 of his 130 yards on the night.
“We’re fortunate to have on our starting lineup three really good running backs, Freddie Paxton, Braylon Dowlen and Jalen Pero,” Portland first-year head coach Wes Inman said. “The past two week’s teams have done a good job of keying on our running backs which allowed our passing game to work.”
The Blue Devils (3-1) answered back after a 30-yard pass from Ranen Blackburn to Bryson Harper set up Harper’s 15-yard run to tie the game at 7-7.
Portland (2-2) scored on its next three possessions, starting with a 61-yard pass from Braden Thornton to Dowlen, followed by a 66-yard Paxton run, and a seven-yard run from fullback Hunter Mayes.
White House found the end zone on its next two possessions prior to halftime on two Ranen Blackburn runs, the last with 52 seconds left in the half.
Alternating between Blackburn and running back Reece McAfee, the Blue Devils opened the second half with a grueling 11-play drive that lasted for more than six minutes and climaxed with a two-yard Montrel Black blast up the middle. Matthews’s kick was wide right, and the score was tied at 27.
“We really didn’t come out too well in the first half, but we came back in, had an attitude check, and we did what we had to do,” McAfee said. “I think we were playing good, we just had to get our attitude right.”
Another six-minute drive led to Ranen Blackburn’s third touchdown of the night. His fourth came 90 seconds later.
Trailing 41-27, Dowlen broke loose for a 53-yard score with 5:25 left in the game.
“At any given time, we have four sophomores on defense, and they’re learning and they’re growing, and obviously that’s going to pay dividends,” Inman said. “We’re mostly a junior defense, we’ve got a lot of first-time starters. We’ve got to improve our hitting, our swarm tackling, we’ve got to Improve our point of attack, but I’m very proud of the way that our boys came out and played. I don’t feel that they ever gave up. I’m proud of the offense, we put up 40 points, but there’s a lot we’ve got to improve.”
McAfee – who finished with 201 rushing yards – broke off his first long touchdown run, a 57-yard scamper with 5:06 left and a 48-33 lead.
Both teams added a final score each for the final 55-40 score before Rhys Blackburn closed the game with an interception.
Both teams return to region play next week, with Portland hosting Northeast on Friday, and White House facing Waverly on Thursday in a game that will be played at Nissan Stadium.
WHITE HOUSE 55, PORTLAND 40
|Portland (2-2), White House (3-1)||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||Final|
P – Freddie Paxton 60 run, 9:25. Nik Averitt kick.
W – Bryson Harper 15 run, 6:24. Harper kick.
P – Braylen Dowlen 61 pass from Braden Thornton, 5:21. Run failed.
P – Paxton 66 run, 1:42. Averitt kick.
W – Ranen Blackburn 3 run, 9:24. Harper kick.
P – Hunter Mayes 7 run, 6:30. Averitt kick.
W – Blackburn 10 run, 0:52. Harper kick.
W – Montrel Black 2 run, 5:42. Kick failed.
W – Blackburn 5 run, 9:43. Harper kick.
W – Blackburn 19 run, 8:06. Harper kick.
P – Dowlen 53 pass from Thornton, 5:25. Run failed.
W – Reece McAfee 57 run, 5:06. Harper kick.
P – Dowlen 53 run, 2:10. Averitt kick.
W – Mcafee 46 run, 1:09. Harper kick.
Portland: Freddie Paxton 9-130, Braylen Dowlen 7-63, Jalen Pero 8-25, Hunter Mayes 3-22, Braden Thornton 2-4, Nik Averitt 1-15.
White House: Reece Mcafee 21-201, Ranen Blackburn 24-142, Bryson Harper 1-15, Montrel Black 3-10.
Portland: Thornton 7-12-1 199.
White House: Blackburn 6-7-0 82.
Portland: Braylen Dowlen 4-154, Freddie Paxton 2-37, Jalen Pero 1-8.
White House: Austin Beeson 2-30, Bryson Harper 1-30, Pierce Scholato 1-16, Reece Mcafee 2-6.