The Daleville Warhawks (1-0) got the 2019 season off to a positive start on Friday, Aug. 23, with a 38-28 win over the Class 1A No. 9-ranked Elba Tigers (0-1) at home.
The Warhawks were led by senior Elite 11 running back Jalen White, who picked up right where he left off in the playoffs.
After rushing for more than 500 yards in Daleville’s two playoff games in 2018, White started off his senior campaign with 289 yards and four touchdowns on 18 rushing attempts against Elba.
Daleville capped off its first drive when White punched in a four-yard touchdown run to put the Warhawks up 6-0 following a failed two-point conversion attempt.
Both teams began to stall out for the remainder of the opening period and the Warhawks took their 6-0 lead into the second quarter.
Late in the second quarter, Daleville again drove inside the Elba 10-yard line but turned the ball over on downs. After the Warhawk defense forced a three-and-out, a bad snap caused Elba’s punter to be tackled in the end zone giving Daleville a 8-0 lead with 2:37 left in the first half.
After another Elba three-and-out, a Daleville fumble gave Elba the ball back with less than a minute remaining. The Tigers were able to strike on a 15-yard touchdown pass with 18 seconds remaining in the half to cut the lead to 8-6. Elba then converted a two-point attempt and tied the game up 8-8 at halftime.
“We started wearing down a little bit at the end of the first half,” Daleville coach Desmond Lett said. “We just have to keep working on our conditioning and getting acclimated to the game speed. You just can’t simulate that in practice.”
Following an interception throw by Daleville quarterback Peanut Bloodsaw in the third quarter, Elba went up 14-8 following a 2-yard touchdown run and failed PAT attempt.
“I saw a lot of resiliency out of the team not wanting to quit and not wanting to give up at that point,” Lett said. “We went right back down the field and scored quick and after that we stayed on top for the rest of the game.”
The Warhawks responded when Bloodsaw exploded for a 69-yard touchdown run. The two-point attempt was no good and the game was tied 14-14 at that point.
Daleville retook the lead when White burst through the Elba defense, breaking a number of tackles along the way, on his way to a 56-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. White converted the two-point conversion and the Warhawks went up 22-14.
As the fourth quarter began, Elba was able to cut the lead to 22-20 on an 11-yard touchdown pass and a failed two-point attempt. The Warhawks were not done, however.
White scored another 35-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion to put Daleville ahead 30-20.
Elba again responded with an 8-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to cut the Daleville lead to 30-28 after the two-point conversion, but White sealed the game with a 59-yard touchdown run on the ensuing Daleville drive. The two-point conversion gave Daleville the 38-28 win.
The Warhawks piled up 395 yards of total offense with 381 yards coming on the ground. Elba had 203 yards of total offense with 142 yards coming on the ground.
Elba was also penalized 11 times for 83 yards, while Daleville was penalized six times for just 29 yards.
“We were able to get the ball to Jalen in space, which was one thing that really helped,” Lett said of his offenses improvement in the second half. “The (offensive) line did a good job of making it possible to get the ball out in space and we were able to make those adjustments at halftime that got us an opportunity to find something we liked and we just stuck with it.”
Along with his big offensive performance, White totaled 11 tackles, three tackles-for-loss and three pass breakups on defense. He also averaged 40 yards per punt, as well.
“Jalen helped us all around out there on offense, defense and special teams,” Lett said of his senior. “Some of those runs he made that were just unbelievable.
“He’s a kid that fights hard, plays hard and practices hard. He’s one kid that you don’t have to stay on about practicing hard because he practices hard every single time he’s out there.”