WHITE HALL — If it weren’t for big plays early on, White Hall might have found itself in some trouble against a team that won’t go to the state playoffs.
De Queen totaled 297 yards and kept the Bulldogs defense on the field with big drives, but the Bulldogs scored on three quick drives in the first half on their way to a 42-7 win in Friday night’s regular-season finale. White Hall, the 5A-South Conference runner-up, will host Forrest City in the 5A first round next Friday, while De Queen is finished for the season.
“I thought De Queen did a good job, traveling all the way over here and competing like they did,” White Hall coach Mike Vaughn said. “What they do is fundamentally sound, run the clock and keep your offense off the field.”
The Bulldogs strung together only one drive of more than four plays in the first half, punting on a nine-play series just before halftime. Luckily for them, they scored on a 48-yard run to close a two-play drive, 74-yard run to finish a three-play series, and 16-yard carry on the third play of another possession to build their lead. “I give it all to the linemen,” said running back Irvin Tisdale, who had 87 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. “If we didn’t have them, we couldn’t make anything. Plus, we’ve got skilled backs, so that really helped us out, too. That’s how we put points on the board.”
Then Joseph Stewart returned an interception — his second and the last of four for White Hall — 30 yards for another touchdown. White Hall now has 12 picks in the last four games, with Stewart accounting for six of them.
De Queen turned the ball over six times. On the last takeaway, White Hall’s Devin Buckner recovered a fumble and took it back 75 yards for a score in the fourth quarter to activate the running clock via the “mercy rule.”
“You’ve got to give our defense credit in the second half,” Vaughn said. “They had turnovers for touchdowns. That’s a biggie.”
The Bulldogs snapped a 12-play opening drive for the Leopards when Robert Dooms picked off Devon Hagood and returned the ball 25 yards to his own 48. Two plays later, Kendrick Edgerson bolted 48 yards for the opening score, and Stewart completed a pass to Tyler Carr off a reverse for the conversion.
De Queen went 83 yards in 10 plays to pull within 8-7 early in the second quarter, getting a 53-yard completion from Hagood to Jake Arndt in the process. John Frachiseur ran from 2 yards out for the TD.
The next drive, White Hall quarterback Terrance Warren zipped through traffic on a keeper and broke a tackle from behind at the end of a 74-yard touchdown run.
Stewart picked off Hagood and brought it back 30 yards to the De Queen 43 to set up White Hall’s third scoring drive. Tisdale accounted for the entire march on three carries, scoring with 6:07 left before halftime.
After Stewart’s pick-six, White Hall recovered a fumble and scored on a 1-yard carry from Tisdale.
Warren had 135 yards on seven carries, and Edgerson 67 yards on four carries.
White Hall senior cornerback Shuquan Walls was carried off the field in a stretcher for precautionary reasons after he hit his head on a thigh pad making a tackle with 5:11 left in the first half. The game was paused for about 7 minutes.
“I don’t think it’s anything bad, but with a head injury, you’re never going to be anything but cautious,” Vaughn said. “We’ll see. We won’t know until the doctor tell us. Let’s all pray for the best.”