The Daleville Warhawks (2-0) remained undefeated on Friday, Aug. 30, as they earned a wild 58-41 win over the Wicksburg Panthers (0-1).
The Warhawks came into the game hungry for a win over the Panthers after losing the past two years against Wicksburg. That hunger was shown in full force by senior running back/safety Jalen White, who had yet another monstrous performance for Daleville.
“I felt like we played pretty well,” Daleville coach Desmond Lett said. “We responded well to adversity. We came out and got out to a lead but (Wicksburg) battled back and got back into the game.
“We didn’t turn our backs on each other and instead we picked each other up and faced the adversity and came back and held on for the win.”
White rushed for a staggering 309 yards and five touchdowns on just 17 carriers, which is more than 18 yards per carry. White also had a 70-yard fumble recovery returned for another touchdown along with 12 tackles, four tackles-for-loss and an interception on defense.
The Warhawks got off to a rocky start when Wicksburg marched right down the field and cashed in a 15-yard touchdown pass on their first possession. The PAT was blocked and Wicksburg led 6-0, but Daleville would answer.
White dashed through the Panther defense for a 67-yard score and the two-point conversion gave the Warhawks an 8-6 lead in the first quarter.
Wicksburg responded right back with a 3-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion to take a 14-8 lead late in the opening period.
After Daleville turned the ball over on downs deep in Panther territory, the Warhawk defense responded with a sack-fumble recovered by senior Melvin Mathews inside the Wicksburg red-zone.
White then scored on a 13-yard touchdown run followed by a two-point conversion to give Daleville a 16-14 lead to end the first quarter.
After Wicksburg once again drove into Daleville territory, Warhawk defender Kawon Taylor scooped up another Panther fumble and raced 69 yards for a Daleville touchdown. The failed two-point try extended the Warhawk lead to 22-14.
Daleville extended the lead again when White scored on a 2-yard touchdown drive on the next Warhawk possession. The two-point conversion extended Daleville’s lead to 30-14.
Yet another Wicksburg fumble was recovered by White and returned 70 yards for another Daleville touchdown. The failed two point conversion gave Daleville a 36-14 lead and all the momentum at halftime.
That momentum continued when Daleville quarterback Robert Dees found Mathews for a 51-yard touchdown pass on the first possession of the third quarter. The two-point conversion gave Daleville a 44-14 lead and what looked a backbreaker for Wicksburg.
Wicksburg was not ready to roll over, however, and scored on an 8-yard touchdown run after a long kick return. The two-point conversion cut Daleville’s lead to 44-22.
White then responded with an explosive 85-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 50-22 after a failed PAT late in the third quarter.
Wicksburg then went on a big run scoring on a 4-yard touchdown run, 27-yard touchdown pass and a 36-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, along with recovering two onside kicks, o cut Daleville’s lead to just 50-41 with under five minutes remaining.
White then took matters into his own hands as Daleville faced a third-and-25 at its own 6-yard line and Wicksburg holding all the momentum. White took a simple toss sweep and danced around and through the Wicksburg defense to a dazzling 94-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion extended and sealed the Warhawk lead to 58-41.
Lett pointed to a possible late hit on White on the sideline late in the game that stood out to him as a moment he knew his team would be okay.
“Where was a hit on the sideline that could have been a little late on Jalen,” Lett continued. “We kept our composure and kept fighting. Whenever we faced adversity like that we responded well to it. Even after they were able to recover two onside kicks and get back into the game, our guys stood up and won the game.”