With a playoff spot on the line, the Daleville Warhawks were able to outscore the Geneva County Bulldogs 70-51 in what ended up as one of the wildest games of the 2019 season.
Daleville and Geneva County game into the game with Class 2A, Region 3’s fourth and final spot in the playoffs on the line, and that showdown also featured a duel between two of the best running backs in all of Class 2A.
Daleville’s Jalen White and Geneva County’s Emanuel Henderson put on a show that spectators will likely remember for years to come as they combined for 780 yards and 11 touchdowns between them.
Daleville’s 70 points tied the school-record for points scored in a game, and the combined 121 points is also a Daleville school record in one game. Daleville last scored 70 points in a 1994 win over Geneva.
“I felt like we played well offensively and for the most party defensively,” Daleville coach Desmond Lett said. “We didn’t tackle very well but (Geneva County) has an electric over there in Emanuel Henderson.
“He’s a heck of an athlete and he made some big plays on us. When we started keying on him they were able to hit us on a couple of passes for touchdowns, too.”
Daleville didn’t waste any time against Geneva County scoring on its first possession when White capped off a four-play drive with a 10-yard touchdown run with 10:05 remaining in the opening period. White also bulled his way into the end-zone for a two-point conversion to put the Warhawks ahead 8-0.
Geneva County couldn’t get anything going on its first possession and was forced to punt, followed by a rare Daleville punt on its next possession.
The offensive fireworks then really got going as Henderson scored on a 38-yard touchdown run with 3:58 left in the first quarter. The PAT cut Daleville’s lead to 8-7 but that score wouldn’t remain for very long.
As the Geneva County defense had been selling out – with eight and nine defenders in the box – to try and stop White, it ended up costing the Bulldogs on back-to-back drives.
“It was big for us,” Lett said of hitting some passes down the field. “They were loading the box and I felt like they knew where the ball was going. So, it was good to get two big passing touchdowns, which them respect the pass a little more and open up the box and allow Jalen to have a big game for us.”
Facing a third-and-six, Daleville quarterback Robert Dees found a wide-open Melvin Matthews for a 58-yard touchdown pass with 2:04 left in the first quarter. White converted the two-point try and put Daleville ahead 16-7.
Daleville kicked the ensuing kickoff short to try and keep the ball away from Henderson, but just two plays later he was celebrating in the end-zone after a 35-yard touchdown run. The PAT cut Daleville’s lead to 16-14 with 56 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
White converted a fourth-and-short on Daleville’s next possession and then Dees found a wide open Matthews again for an 18-yard touchdown catch with 8:20 left in the second quarter. The two-point try failed, however, and Daleville’s lead remained 22-14.
The Daleville defense forced a rare three-and-out on Geneva County’s next possession and White made the Bulldogs pay again, this time on a 78-yard touchdown run with 6:47 remaining in the half. Sincere McKenzie converted the two-point try and the Warhawk lead ballooned to 30-14.
Henderson returned the ensuing kickoff 28 yards and then the Bulldogs marched on a 16-play, 68-yard drive that took up the entire remaining 6:47 of the half.
As time expired, Geneva County fullback William Birdsong scored on a fourth-and-goal situation. Henderson converted the two-point try and cut Daleville’s lead to 30-22 at halftime.
Geneva County opened the second half by marching inside the Daleville 10-yard line, but the Warhawks were able to stiffen and forced a turnover on downs.
White scored again – with 2:03 left in the third quarter – on a 35-yard touchdown run. Peanut Bloodsaw converted the two-point try and Daleville extended the lead to 38-22. That touchdown was the only score of the third quarter and was the only period in the game that at least three touchdowns were not scored.
That changed in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs finished off a long drive – that rolled over in the final period – with an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nicholas Saunders to receiver Jackson Stewart. Saunders and Stewart also converted the two-point try and cut the Warhawk lead to 38-30 with 10:41 remaining.
Daleville would need just one play to answer as White weaved his way through the Bulldog defense for a dazzling 73-yard touchdown run with 8:56 left. He also converted the two-point try and extended Daleville’s lead to 46-30.
Geneva County answered as Henderson scored on a 9-yard touchdown run with 6:40 left. The two-point try failed and Daleville’s lead remained 46-36.
Matthews returned the ensuing kickoff 38 yards, which set up a 17-yard touchdown run from White on the next play. White’s two-point conversion extended Daleville’s lead to 54-36 with 6:13 remaining.
Henderson wasn’t done mesmerizing fans in attendance, however, as one of Geneva County’s special teams players scooped up a short kickoff and then rocketed it back to Henderson. The sophomore runner then danced his way through the Daleville special teams to a 73-yard kickoff return touchdown. The PAT cut Daleville’s lead to 54-43 with 5:59 to go.
White scored again on a 49-yard touchdown run with 5:00 remaining. Dees tossed a two-point conversion to Bloodsaw to extend the Warhawk lead to 62-43.
Geneva County drove into Warhawk territory again but turned the ball over on downs, and on the very next play White exploded through an exhausted Bulldog defense for a 55-yard touchdown run with 3:10 remaining. McKenzie added the two-point conversion and Daleville led 70-43.
With 1:14 remaining, Saunders found Stewart again for a 26-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion cut Daleville’s lead to 70-51, but the Warhawks were able to simply run the clock out after recovering an onside kick attempt.
In the win, White broke his own single-game school rushing record with 465 yards and seven touchdowns on 26 attempts. The seven touchdowns also ties the school record for rushing touchdowns in a game, which was set by Brandon Burks in 2011.
The seven touchdowns is second in state history for rushing touchdowns in a game – tying White with several others that have accomplished it – and the 465 rushing yards is the third highest total in state history, according to the AHSAA. White also accounted for 50 points in the game – seven touchdowns and four two-point conversions – which is sixth in state history for a single game.
On defense, White also led the Warhawks with 11 tackles and two tackles-for-loss.
Henderson also had a record-setting night with his seventh kickoff return touchdown of the season, breaking the state record.
McKenzie added 37 yards on four carries for Daleville, while Dees completed both of his passing attempts for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Matthews caught two passes for 72 yards and both scores, while also recording three tackles and a tackle-for-loss on defense.
Linebacker Myles Parris added 7.5 tackles, while Cortez Buckhalter had six tackles and three tackles-for-loss.
In total, Daleville piled up 523 yards on the ground and 595 yards of total offense, while Geneva County had 363 yards of total offense.
Henderson led the way for Geneva County with 153 yards and three touchdowns on 21 rushing attempts. He also had one catch for 25 yards and two kickoff returns for 137 yards and another touchdown. That’s 315 all-purpose yards for the sophomore.
Saunders completed 6-of-16 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns, while Stewart caught four passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns.