ROCKMART — For three quarters, White County won the battle against Rockmart on Friday in the two teams Class 3A first round playoff matchup.
The problem was the Yellow Jackets stormed out to a 20-0 lead after the first quarter and then held off a furious Warriors’ rally for a 48-35 win to knock the Warriors out of the playoffs.
It was billed as a showdown between two of the state’s best offenses. The Warriors’ J. Ben Haynes threw for three touchdowns and Silas Mulligan ran for two but the White County defense put up little resistance against Rockmart’s top-rated offense, and especially Javin Whatley.
The senior Yellow Jackets quarterback threw for three scores, ran for two more, and added an 80-yard kickoff return for good measure.
Whatley connected with Devin Sims on a 47-yard touchdown pass on their opening drive. After a White County punt, Whatley capped their second drive with a 26-yard run with 4:30 left in the opening period. Three minutes later Whatley scored on a 5-yard run for a stunning 20-0 Rockmart lead.
The Warriors finally woke up as Haynes scored from 15-yards to trim the Jackets’ to 20-7 just 20 seconds into the second quarter. The two defenses then seemed to take control until Whatley produced his third TD run from 29-yards out for a 27-7 lead with just 2:14 left in the half.
But just over a minute later the Warriors answered as Haynes found Darius Cannon for a 27-yd TD pass to pull within 27-14 by halftime. White County then pulled within 27-21 on a Silas Mulligan 1-yard run.
It was short-lived, however, as Whatley returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards to push the lead back to 34-21. Mulligan got the Warriors within 34-28 90 seconds later with his second touchdown run of the game but that’s as close as they could get.
Whatley and Sims connected again on a 29-yard scoring pass and
JoJo Haynes made it 48-28 with just under 11 minutes left with an 8-yard TD run for the Jackets.
Haynes again pulled the Warriors closer with a 13-yard TD pass to Reece Dockery with 8:50 left but the Jackets defense clamped down from there.