OAKWOOD -- If defense wins championships, White County is certainly showing it has what it takes to be in the hunt.
The Warriors pitched their third shutout of the season Friday night, holding off West Hall 14-0 at Spartans Field and kept alive their hopes for a first round home playoff game.
In seven of the Warriors nine games, they have held the opposition to 14 points or less. White County coach Bill Ballard said they have a lot of confidence in their defense.
"They've played well all season," Ballard said. "West Hall runs a similar offense to some other teams we've played but it's difficult to stop. I was real proud of our effort."
Both teams came into the game banged up and each left with a few more bruises. The biggest was West Hall quarterback Zach English, who was not able to play in the second half after returning an interception 52 yards near the end of the first half. He was twisted up on the tackle and spent the second half in a knee brace.
"That was a big play and we talked about what to do in the second half," West Hall coach Tony Lotti said. "We felt it was better to hold him out. We'll see where he is next week."
The win for White County (7-2, 5-1 Region 7-AAA) puts them one win from clinching second place in the region based on their win over North Hall two weeks ago. The Warriors close out the season against winless Banks County.
The story is a little different for West Hall. The Spartans (5-4, 3-3) will travel to Dawsonville next week in a virtual winner-take-all game for the final spot in the playoffs.
"That's the game for us," Lotti said. "We knew that coming into this game. No matter what happened tonight, we have to win next week to get in the playoffs."
While they held English out for precautionary reasons, the Spartans may have found their future quarterback in freshman Jacob Satterfield. Satterfield replaced English in the second half and did not turn the ball over and finished 7-of-10 for 82 yards passing.
"I keep calling him freshman but Jacob I thought played well for being thrown in like that," Lotti said. "He showed us a few things.'
The game essentially came down to two plays, both long passes by the Warriors catching the Spartans defense off-guard. The first would have senior Will Flowers haul in a long reverse pass from Adam Johnson for a 74-yard touchdown to give the Warriors a 7-0 lead with 54 seconds left in the first quarter.
The second came after White County would convert two long third downs on option plays. On a 3rd-and-15 from the West Hall 28, A.J. Vandiver would connect with a wide-open Clancy Loudermilk for a 28-yard touchdown pass for a 14-0 lead late in the third quarter.
The White defense did the rest. West Hall would only get as far as the White County 45 in the second half.
"Both teams came in banged up and really played well for the condition we were in," Ballard said. "We were able to catch them on a couple of plays and that was the difference. (Coach Lotti) has done a great job over there. They gave us everything we could handle."
It was a defensive battle from the start. The Warriors would stop West Hall on its first possession and the Spartans looked to get the first break of the game recovering a White County fumble on their second play at the Warriors 43.
But the Warriors would force a quick three-and-out on defense. The Warriors had a drive working but would again fumble, with West Hall recovering at its own 45.
But the White County again would force a quick three-and-out setting their first touchdown.
Neither offense could get much going in the second quarter trading punts over the next 11 minutes. The West Hall defense would get its third takeaway of the half when English picked off a Vandiver pass and returned it 52 yards to the Warriors 38 with just under four seconds remaining in the half.
English only needed to break one more tackle for a possible return for a touchdown but was finally coraled by three White County defenders and would come up hobbling.
English would get intercepted as the half ended attempting a long throw into the end zone.
The defensive battle would continue in the second half. The two teams would trade punts to open the third quarter before the Warriors would mount their best drive of the game ending in Vandiver's pass to Loudermilk.
White County would finish with 296 total yards, paced by Vandiver with 62 yards rushing.
West Hall finished with just 182 total yards and just 61 on the ground. Hunter Atkinson had seven receptions for 83 yards for the Spartans.
White Co......7....0....7....0 -- 14
West Hall.....0.....0....0....0 -- 0
WC -- Flowers 74 pass from A. Johnson (Saunders kick) 7-0, 0:54
WC -- Cl. Loudermilk 28 pass from Vandiver (Saunders kick) 14-0, 2:45
NOTES: White County has won eight in a row over the Spartans after West Hall had won six straight in the series. . .West Hall still needs one win to secure its first winning season since 2002. . .The Spartans would like to regain its offensive form from earlier in the season when they averaged 39 ppg and went 4-1. The Spartans have averaged just 12 ppg over their last four contests and have gone 1-3. . .White County has played outstanding defense over the past five games. Take out the 42 points to Buford and the Warriors have allowed just 17 points with two shutouts.