The Whiteland football team showed signs of offensive life after a rough start to the season. Unfortunately for the Warriors, Decatur Central’s offense was just about unstoppable.

Quarterback Bryce Jefferson and tailback Tyrone Tracy ran at will for the Hawks, dooming the Warriors to a 55-28 defeat Friday night.

Decatur Central (2-1, 1-0 Mid-State) caught a big break when a squibbed opening kickoff deflected off of a Whiteland player and bounced right back to the Hawks. Four plays later, quarterback Bryce Jefferson swung around the left side and got free for a 27-yard scoring run to give the visitors a 7-0 lead just 92 seconds in.

The Warriors (0-3, 0-1) came back with a 60-yard drive and cut it to 7-6 on a 1-yard Ryan Hammond run, then recovered a fumble at the Decatur Central 25. Five plays later, Hammond scored from 3 yards out and added a two-point run to put Whiteland up 14-7 with 2:37 left in the first.

That lead lasted all of 27 seconds. Tyrone Tracy took a handoff on the Hawks’ next play from scrimmage and rumbled 85 yards to tie it up.

Whiteland pulled ahead early in the second, 22-14, on a 3-yard run by Preston Phillips, but Decatur Central tied it on a Jefferson 6-yard run and then added a 35-yard scoring pass from Jefferson to Demontai Franklin with a minute left in the half to take a 29-22 edge into the break.

After Jefferson began the second half with a 29-yard touchdown run, Whiteland drove into Decatur Central territory only to have Will Gibson step in front of an Iyan Pelfree pass and take it to the house, making it 41-22 midway through the third quarter.

The Hawks all but put the game away late in the third on a 66-yard TD pass from Jefferson to Tracy. Jake Perry added a 3-yard rushing touchdown for Whiteland with 9:53 to go in the final period, but Tracy answered from 15 yards out at the other end to close out the scoring with 5:04 remaining.

Whiteland will try to get untracked next week against a Franklin team also in search of its first win.

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Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.