RABBITTOWN -- Friday's showdown in Valhalla proved gritty, phyiscal and tense.
In other words just the kind of contest that White County wanted.
And while the Warriors may have preferred an easier victory, they were more than at home in grinding out a 6-0 win over East Hall in Rabbittown.
"These are the best ones to play in, the most fun," White County fullback/linebacker Dalton Whitfield said. "It was kind of an ugly win, but they all go down the same."
Whitfield provided White County (4-1, 2-0 Region 7-AAA) with the difference-making score on the night, rumbling 15 yards at the start of the third quarter to highlight a 12 carry, 122-yard performance.
It was one of the few big offensive plays -- though Whitfield also had a 67-yard run earlier in the contest -- on a night dominated by two determined and hard-hitting defenses.
The Warriors did manage 317 yards, including 286 rushing, but two turnovers helped keep White County from pulling away -- though the Warriors came up with key plays when necessary, including three fourth down conversions on the final possession of the game, allowing the visitors to run out the clock (White County converted four of six fourth down attempts for the game). East Hall also finished with 188 yards.
"I am very impressed with East Hall; I'm glad we don't have to play them again," White County coach Bill Ballard said. "They are going to get some big wins later this season."
The victory was also plenty big for White County, which put itself at the front of the postseason race in Region 7-AAA and showed it had fully rebounded from a 30-0 loss to Blessed Trinity the week before.
"I'm pleased to see how our kids fought and battled tonight," Ballard said. "This was not an easy game, but they never panicked. And every one of those kids played hard. We had a few mistakes that made things a little harder on us, but I loved the way we fought."
East Hall (3-2, 0-2) ensured the Warriors needed every ounce of their grit, allowing just 133 yards in the first half.
Both teams missed scoring opportunities over the first 24 minutes, including a fumble from White County's Maurice Sutton as he reached for the goal line in the second quarter.
"He was just trying to get in, and it looked like it he was close to getting in," Ballard said. "You can't fault his effort there."
East Hall also missed a 46-yard field goal attempt just before the half.
White County began to open holes in East Hall's defensive front just after the interval, gaining traction on their first possession of the third quarter.
Whitfield did much of the damage, pounding his way into the end zone from 15 yards for a 6-0 lead -- the point after attempt failed -- with 8:04 left in the quarter.
White County could not shake the Vikings, however, as Devin Watson -- who fought back from an early leg injury -- kept pressure on the Warriors with his arm, passing for 115 yards on 18 of 30 attempts. Dre Brawner led all receivers with four catches for 26 yards.
The Warriors kept East Hall out of the end zone, however, tightening down whenever East Hall drove within sight of the goal line, forcing three turnovers on downs during the contest.
"I think we underestimated them early, but we bounced back and played well when we had to," Whitfield said. "Now we've got two weeks to take this win and get ready for our next one."
That next game comes against defending state champ Buford on Oct. 11.
East Hall, meanwhile, will look to bounce back against North Hall next Friday at The Brickyard.
White County...0....0....6....0 -- 6
East Hall...........0....0....0....0 -- 0
WC -- Whitfield 15 run (kick failed) 8:04, 6-0