From downtown: Blackburn, McAfee’s big plays propel White House past Waverly

Blue Devils score five touchdowns of 60 yards or more in critical region victory at Nissan Stadium

NASHVILLE – White House’s big-play offense picked up where it left off six days earlier, this time in the spotlight of Nissan Stadium.

White House’s big-play offense picked up where it left off six days earlier, this time in the spotlight of Nissan Stadium.

Led by a rushing attack that piled up 338 yards, the Blue Devils withstood a late Waverly rally to collect a 36-34 victory Thursday and pick up a crucial Region 6-3A victory in the process.

The Tennessee Titans hosted Waverly for the game after the Tigers’ facility was destroyed by the flooding in August, with the game serving as their Senior Night and homecoming as well.

“This week was, as far as distractions were concerned, pretty rough,” Waverly head coach Randall Boldin said. “But I thought our kids were ready to play. We dropped a lot of passes early on that could have really helped us … But I’m proud of the way our kids fought tonight.”

It was a new experience for both teams, as the stadium had never hosted a high school football game in its 22-year history.

“Our kids did a great job of not building it up until we got here,” White House head coach Ryan Hamilton said. “When we got off the bus and came down the tunnel to the field, that moment was amazing for our kids. It was phenomenal. Everybody had that movement, but everybody moved through it, adjusted, settled in and played.”

Once the teams got down to business, Waverly (3-1, 1-1 Region 6-3A) cashed in on its opening drive, as Jacob Dooley connected with Bryce Stanfield for the first of three touchdown passes between the duo.

Then, the Blue Devils responded with the first of their five touchdowns from 60 or more yards as Ranen Blackburn took off for a 67-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter. He followed it up midway through the second, finding Bryson Harper for a 62-yard scoring strike.

“It was super special,” Blackburn said of the experience. “It’s once-in-a-lifetime and no one else might get to do this, maybe, and it was awesome to be one of the first teams ever to (play at Nissan Stadium).”

Harper, also the Blue Devils’ placekicker, knocked through a 35-yard field goal to end the first half with White House (4-1, 2-0) up 16-14.

Dooley, who threw four touchdown passes, also ran for one in the second quarter. But three of those came in the fourth quarter after the Tigers had fallen behind 23-14 and were trading shots with the Blue Devils, who kept scoring from distance.

“We would have liked to get out of here with the win, but we mis-executed some stuff,” Dooley said. “Still, we’re thankful for the opportunity.”

Reece McAfee found paydirt from 65 yards in the third quarter, then added a 62-yarder on the first play of the fourth quarter as the Blue Devils pushed their advantage to 30-14. Blackburn and Harper added another long connection, a 61-yarder, to provide enough cushion against Waverly’s comeback attempt.

Dooley and Stanfield connected twice for scores in a span of 1:47 late in the fourth, but the Tigers were unable to recover an onside kick that would have given them one more chance to steal the victory.

The Blue Devils will carry their four-game winning streak to Sycamore next week, looking to inch closer to a Class 3A playoff spot, while Waverly will visit Stewart County.

WHITE HOUSE 36, WAVERLY 34

White House (4-1, 2-0), Waverly (3-1, 1-1)1st2nd3rd4thFinal
White House61071336
Waverly7702034

SCORING SUMMARY

1st Quarter

W – Bryce Stanfield 6 pass from Jacob Dooley, 7:20. Ian Holland kick.

WH – Ranen Blackburn 67 run, 0:31. Kick failed.

2nd Quarter

WH – Bryson Harper 62 pass from Blackburn, 7:34. Harper kick.

W – Dooley 16 run, 3:22. Holland kick.

WH – Harper 35 field goal, 0:00.

3rd Quarter

WH – Reece McAfee 65 run, 6:14. Harper kick.

4th Quarter

WH – McAfee 62 run, 11:47. Harper kick.

W – Kade Anderson 28 pass from Dooley, 8:07. Holland kick.

WH – Harper 61 pass from Blackburn, 6:25. Pass failed.

W – Stanfield 16 pass from Dooley, 3:07. Run failed.

W – Stanfield 23 pass from Dooley, 1:20. Holland kick.

WHITE HOUSEWAVERLY
First downs1226
Rushes-yards28-33844-243
Pass completions-attempts-interceptions5-7-020-34-0
Passing yards163221
Punts-average3-36.73-40.3
Fumbles-lost1-01-0
Penalties4-326-52

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Rushing

White House: Ranen Blackburn 12-185, Reece McAfee 13-156, Bryson Harper 1-0, Team 2-(-3).

Waverly: Jacob Dooley 25-144, Emrik Houston 9-51, Easton Elliot 8-45, Ayden Brooks 1-4, Bryce Stanfield 1-(-1).

Passing

White House: Blackburn 5-7-0 163.

Waverly: Dooley 20-34-0 221.

Receiving

White House: Harper 3-126, Rhys Blackburn 1-20, McAfee 1-17.

Waverly: Kade Anderson 4-68, Emrik Houston 5-62, Stanfield 5-53, Landon Dooley 4-29, Brooks 2-9.

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