WHITE HOUSE — When hard rain set in during the fourth quarter of Friday’s Homecoming game for White House High School, it was a symbolic end to an ugly night of football with yet a beautiful result.
Marred in an offensive slump of just 121 total yards and scoring just one offensive touchdown, White House overcame Sycamore with a thrilling 18-15 victory in front of the rain-soaked crowd. Dillon Anderson’s 25-yard field goal with 9:20 left was ultimately the difference.
“We are very thankful to get the win and be 2-0 in district play,” said White House head coach Jeff Porter. “But tonight was just a combination of a lot of people defensively for Sycamore in the box and the rain added to it made for a defensive battle.”
Sycamore fell to 1-3 on the season with three close losses, after jumping out to an 8-0 lead on the opening possession of the game. The visitors drove nine plays and 72 yards with quarterback Adam Clanton connecting with Bailey Baker on a six-yard touchdown pass, then Clanton ran untouched to the endzone for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 lead.
White House failed on downs, then forced a Sycamore punt, but Josh Mullins returned it 39 yards to the Sycamore 31 with set up a short field and an eight-play march. Quarterback Ryan Pool scored on a one-yard sneak and then found A.J. Allison on a pass in the corner to tie the game at 8-8 with just over a minute gone in the second quarter.
That’s when the momentum shifted.
Clanton was picked off at the White House 47 on a long pass, and Alex Lyon navigated his way 53 yards to the endzone for a pick six touchdown and Anderson’s kick made it 15-8.
“I think that’s the best way to say it – it turned the momentum of the game,” Porter said of the interception. “The score was the extra bonus and allowed us to take the momentum into halftime, but then we turned around in the third quarter and gave it right back to them.”
A very similar play by Clanton helped Sycamore tie it up, when the quarterback playing defense intercepted Pool (he had two in the game) at the 47, and returned to the 18. He scored two plays later on a 19-yard run and Scott Herstek’s PAT tied the game at 15.
White House’s Corey Cantrell recovered a Clanton fumble with 3:45 left in the third quarter to stop momentum for the War Eagles, then White House went three and out and a short punt.
On the first play, Clanton was attempting to hand the ball off and Emmett Cannon helped force a fumble right into the arms of Tyler Ellis at the Blue Devils 46. Lyon ran for 20, then Felts for seven and the quarter changed ends of the field.
Now facing a field goal opportunity into the wind, Anderson knocked it through on 4th-and-5.
“We were playing for the touchdown,” Porter explained, whose team was 0-for-2 on fourth down. “But the down and the distance in that situation just called for the field goal even on that end of the field.”
By then, the skies emptied with rain and Sycamore pushed down the field to attempt a tie. Both teams punted, and the War Eagles had one final shot at their own 40 after a short punt sailed out of bounds with 2:58 left.
Clanton took advantage, connecting with Baker for 29 yards on the first play, and then scrambled for 11 yards to the 20 for a first down. Dillan Bright gained four, then Clanton was incomplete on second and third down with Josh Mullins knocking away a potential winning touchdown throw.
Herstek lined up for the game-tying 34-yard field goal and the kick missed low and right, leaving White House an opportunity to run out the clock.
The Blue Devils surrendered 235 yards of total offense to Sycamore, with Clanton connecting on 11-of-19 passes for 97 yards. White House was led by Alex Felts with 25 carries for 67 yards. Denis Schaffer led the defense with 11 tackles followed by Taylor Wood and Bailey Burns with eight each.
White House (3-1) goes on the road Friday in non-district play at Springfield.
“They are quick, and they have put up a lot of offensive points the last two weeks,” Porter noted. “They have a great tailback and a great wideout and this is going to be a challenge for us. That is always a tough environment to go play.”