The Daleville Warhawks (5-2, 2-2) hosted Class 2A, Region 2 foe Cottonwood Bears (1-5, 1-3) for homecoming on Friday, Oct. 4, and eventually pulled away for a dominating 68-29 win.
Senior Daleville running back Jalen White continued his almost unimaginable season by surpassing the 300-yard mark for the fourth time this season with 379 yards, and did so on just 11 rushing attempts.
“I felt like we came out a little sluggish in the first half and let them hang around,” Daleville coach Desmond Lett said. “We had a really big second half, though, and got a chance to have a lot of guys play, which was great.”
White got his night started off right – after a Cottonwood three-and-out – with a 27-yard run on Daleville’s first offensive play and then he finished off the drive on the very next play with a 35-yard touchdown run. Sincere McKenzie cashed in a two-point conversion and the Warhawks led 8-0 with 9:16 remaining in the opening period.
Cottonwood responded, however, with a 10-play scoring dive that was capped off by a 14-yard touchdown run from quarterback Austin McCardle with 3:30 left in the first quarter. Cottonwood failed to convert a two-point try and Daleville still led 8-6.
Cottonwood attempted an onside kick but the Warhawks managed to cover up the football at midfield, and then White scored on a 50-yard touchdown run on the very next play with 3:17 left in the opening period. The two-point try failed and Daleville led 14-6.
On Cottonwood’s ensuing possession, McKenzie jumped in front of a McCardle pass for a Warhawk interception and then Daleville marched down the field inside the Cottonwood 10-yard line.
As the first quarter came to a close, Daleville quarterback Robert Dees bobbled the snap from under center and Cottonwood managed to cover it up to snuff out a possible Warhawk scoring opportunity.
The Bears marched right back down the field and drove inside Daleville’s 10-yard line, but were unable to draw any closer to the end zone from there. Cottonwood booted a 25-yard field goal with 9:48 left in the first half to cut Daleville’s lead to 14-9.
Cottonwood then managed to recover an onside kick and drove back inside the Daleville red-zone before eventually turning the ball over on downs.
After another third down fumble – this time recovered by Daleville – the Warhawks lined up to punt, but White took off instead and managed to shed three Bear tacklers on his way to a 56-yard touchdown run with 1:15 left in the first half. McKenzie converted the two-point try and the Warhawks took a 22-9 lead.
Cottonwood drove down the field again but this time White was able to step in front of a McCardle pass for an interception and allow Daleville to go into halftime with the 22-9 lead.
White didn’t waste any time as he jump started the third quarter with an electrifying 60-yard touchdown run on the half’s very first play. McKenzie again converted the two-point try and extended the Warhawk lead to 30-9 with 11:42 remaining in the third quarter.
On Cottonwood’s first play of the half, Daleville defensive tackle Jeremiah Moore met running back Raymond Bryant in the backfield and after forcing him to fumble, Moore also recovered the fumble.
White scored on the first play of the ensuing drive again, this time on a 23-yar touchdown run, with 11:19 left in the third quarter. McKenzie converted the two-point try and extended the Warhawk lead to 38-9.
Bryant made up for his fumble on the next drive as he broke off a 50-yard run that put Cottonwood inside the Daleville 10-yard line. Bryant then cashed in a 2-yard touchdown run with 9:39 left in the third quarter. The PAT cut Daleville’s lead to 38-16.
After driving into Bear territory again, Dees found a wide-open Melvin Matthews for a 12-yard touchdown pass with 8:02 left in the third quarter. Cameron Giles converted the two-point try and Daleville’s lead swelled to 46-16.
The Bears drove back into the Warhawk red-zone on their ensuing possession but Daleville managed to force a turnover on downs.
White then scored on the first play of Daleville’s ensuing drive with a dazzling 81-yard touchdown run – weaving through and around the Bear defense – with 1:53 remaining. McKenzie converted the two-point try and Daleville led 54-16.
That would be White’s last touch of the game as the Warhawks managed to play a number of younger players in the fourth quarter, while playing against a running clock.
Daleville cornerback Speedy Wiley also got a chance to play some offense for the first time this season as he moved to the tailback position in the fourth quarter.
Wiley opened the fourth quarter with a 44-yard touchdown run with 9:13 left in the game. Matthews converted the two-point try and the Warhawks led 62-16.
Cottonwood scored on an 8-yard touchdown run with 7:39 left but failed to convert the PAT. Daleville still led 62-22.
The Warhawks got on the scoreboard again when Jeremiah Cunningham scored on a 15-yard touchdown run with 3:42 remaining. The two-point conversion attempt failed and Daleville led 68-22.
“The older guys were on the sideline cheering on the younger guys and I think that’s really big for our program,” Lett said. “Also, the community having a chance to watch those young guys out there and getting them some more experience was big for us.
“All of those kids show up and work every single day but don’t always get to play in the games. So, it was great to get give them a chance to get out there and play more.”
Finally, with 1:32 left in the game Cottonwood scored on an 8-yard touchdown run and the PAT made the final score 68-29.
Daleville rolled up an eye-popping 565 rushing yards and 616 total yards on the day.
White rushed for 379 yards and six touchdowns on just 11 rushing attempts, while Wiley had 75 yards and a touchdown on three carries.
“Ever since his eighth grade year I also teased him about being soft,” Lett joked about Wiley. “He kind of took that and ran with it. He keeps telling me, ‘Hey coach, I’m not soft anymore.’
“He’s just a really gritty kid and to have him back there at tailback and seeing how he wasn’t scared to stick his nose in there and was really hard to bring down was great. He may be a guy that can take some of those carries off of Jalen in the future, also.”
McKenzie added 41 yards on three attempts, while also catching two passes for 39 yards. He also had 6.5 tackles and an interception on defense.
Daleville’s 68 points on offense is the highest total for the Warhawks in a game since scoring a school-record 70 points against Geneva in 1994. It’s also the first time Daleville has scored more than 60 points in a game since 2001.
Moore also had a big day for the Warhawk defense with four tackles, one sack, 3.5 tackles-for-loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Bryant led the Bears with 161 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries as Cottonwood totaled 395 yards of offense.