Tale of Two Halves: Bulldogs come alive in live-game second half


MALVERN — Depending on how it was scored, the White Hall-Malvern scrimmage either finished as an 11-point Bulldogs’ win or a 10-point Leopards’ win at Claude Mann Stadium.

Malvern dominated the first half of the scrimmage, which saw both teams run 30 offensive plays — alternating every 10 plays. White Hall used big plays to reverse its fortune’s in the second half, which was played under normal rules.

The Leopards unofficially led 21-0 at halftime. The score was kept for the second half, though, and White Hall won that 21-10.

In the first half, Malvern got off to a quick start. The 7-4A Conference Leopards scored twice in their first 10-play sequence against the 5A-South Bulldogs.

On Malvern’s third play, junior running back Monte Hernandez took a handoff up the middle, broke out to his left and went untouched up the sideline for a 41-yard touchdown.

Six plays later, Malvern found the end zone again. This time it was sophomore running back Jamari McCullom crossing the goal line from 10 yards out.

Junior backup quarterback Clayton Bowers started the Bulldogs’ first 10-play sequence, but suffered a head injury in the game.

White Hall head coach Mike Vaughn doesn’t expect the injury to be serious, but he did say junior Daniel Sprinkle would begin working today as junior Kirk Baugh’s backup QB. According to Vaughn, Sprinkle took some snaps at quarterback during 7-on-7 drills and team camp.

After White Hall’s opening sequence, Malvern hit another big play — this time through the air.

Sophomore quarterback Trace Collie found junior wide receiver Elliott Coston for a 56-yard touchdown.

“We tackled awful,” Vaughn said. “We haven’t worked on live tackling (in practice), but we’re going to start (today).

“We hadn’t started yet because we didn’t want to get guys hurt, but we’ve got to start now.”

It seemed like a different White Hall team took the field in the second half — and in some ways, it was.

“We didn’t have our first team all in (at the same time),” Vaughn said about the first half.

On the first play of the second half, White Hall junior Kendrick Edgerson took a pass from Baugh and looked dead in the water, but he managed to cut back across the field and pick up 30 yards on the play.

The drive, though, fizzled out after a holding penalty on second-down-and-3 on the Malvern 13-yard line.

The Bulldogs tried to cap the drive with a 41-yard field goal, but a delay of game penalty pushed them back 5 yards. Junior Joseph Failla’s ensuing kick attempt was short and off to the left.

After forcing a Malvern punt, White Hall hit another big play on first down. This time, Baugh found senior wideout Kaseem Smith streaking down the right-hash marks.

Smith took a solid hit from a Malvern defensive back but held on for a 38-yard catch.

But just like the previous drive, this one fizzled out for the Bulldogs as they eventually turned the ball over on downs.

“We had a couple drives where we moved the ball down the field and then just stalled out,” Vaughn said. “When we get down close to the red zone, we need to have that killer instinct.”

Malvern finally broke the second half stalemate when senior kicker Jesus Torres nailed a 31-yard field goal with 8:22 left in the fourth quarter.

It took White Hall just 10 seconds to answer.

On the first play of the Bulldogs’ next drive, Smith got behind the defense and Baugh was able to hit him in stride for a 70-yard touchdown.

After forcing a three-and-out, the Bulldogs took over and fought through three holding penalties to get back in the end zone.

On a second-and-24 play from its own 35-yard line, Baugh found Smith open deep again. This time, Smith cruised in for a 65-yard touchdown with just under 6 minutes remaining. Failla’s extra point gave White Hall a 14-3 lead — or cut Malvern’s lead to 24-14.

The Leopards responded with a long drive capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Kaylen Burks.

On the second play of its ensuing drive, White Hall capped the scoring when Edgerson broke a 65-yard touchdown run down the right sideline with just under 1 1/2 minutes remaining.

Edgerson finished with 96 yards on seven carries, while senior running back Irvin Tisdale accounted for 23 yards on six carries.

Baugh shook off a rough first half (2-for-8 for four yards) to finish 10-for-17 for 237 yards. He also accounted for 37 yards on the ground. Bowers went just 1-for-3 for 13 yards in his limited time.

Smith finished with three catches for 173 yards (57.67 yards per catch).

White Hall begins its season Sept. 3 against Monticello in the Simmons First/Hootens.com Kickoff Week games at Golden Lion Stadium.