Special to The Commercial/Bo Rogers
White Hall’s Donovan Jordan (from left), Zac Wallace, Keith Mason and Justin Lantrip surround Hamburg’s Trey Miller during Tuesday’s second game at Golden Lion Stadium.
No Kirk Baugh for White Hall, no problem.
After losing its starting quarterback to a broken collarbone during its scrimmage against Malvern, White Hall only had about a week to prepare with Terrance Warren under center.
Warren, though, took 30 percent of the snaps under center last year, so there was not much of a learning curve. He helped lead White Hall to a 21-0 lead, and the Bulldogs went on to beat Hamburg 35-15 in the Simmons First/Hootens.com Kickoff Week game at Golden Lion Stadium.
White Hall got off to a quick start. The Bulldogs received the opening kickoff and drove 83 yards in six plays and was capped by Warren’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Stewart.
That first touchdown pass gave Warren a good confidence boost.
“It put my confidence through the roof and made me feel unstoppable,” he said. “My teammates were pumping me up and telling me I got it. Made me feel like they couldn’t stop me.”
Warren finished the night with 150 yards on 8 of 12 passing with two touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for 28 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
White Hall coach Mike Vaughn said Warren’s touchdown pass was a big momentum builder.
“We knew last year that (Terrance) could play and we knew this year that he could play,” he said. “I had no doubt about him and he needed this. It was his breakout game.”
The bad news was Stewart later had to leave the game with an ankle injury. Vaughn said at first they thought it was an ankle sprain, but it could be worse.
After forcing a three-and-out on Hamburg‘s first possession, White Hall had a chance to score on its second possession, but Percy Arnold dropped the pass with nothing but the end zone in front of him. Arnold would later redeem himself.
White Hall was able to score on its next possession as Irvin Tisdale completed an 11-play, 70-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs got the ball back one last time with 1:11 remaining in the first half at their own 22-yard line. Tisdale broke 12- and 26-yard runs before Warren hit Arnold in the right corner of the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown.
“I had to make up for when I made a mistake,” Arnold said. “I am supposed make catches like that. I am not supposed to be dropping anything, so when I have a chance to make a play, I am going to make it.”
Arnold finished with a team-high 59 yards receiving on three catches.
“When Kirk went down, I was pretty sure Terrance would make every play,” Arnold said. “He made every throw that we needed.”
White Hall’s defense was no slouch either. The Bulldogs held Hamburg to minus-1 yard at halftime.
“We were getting on them all night,” said Warren of White Hall’s defense.
White Hall scored again with 35 seconds left in the third quarter on Warren’s 6-yard touchdown run.
Then with 10:08 left in the game, Hamburg quarterback Logan Morris fumbled the snap and White Hall’s Daniel Sprinkle recovered it and ran it in 5 yards for the score and a 35-0 Bulldogs’ lead.
Hamburg got on the board with a 1-yard touchdown run by Lamarco Harris with 5:08 left and Damarion Mills added a 7-yard run with 1:58 remaining to pull within 35-15.
Last year, White Hall started the year with three straight losses before making a run to the Class 5A semifinals. Warren said it felt a lot better to avoid another 0-3 start this year.
“It feels so good to get a win to start off and gives us momentum,” he said.