For the Daily Journal
Whiteland needed a win — but after seemingly running away with it early Friday night, the Warriors ran into trouble late.
Visiting Martinsville scored 32 unanswered points for a 43-33 win, stealing what once looked like a sure Whiteland victory.
In the first half, the Warriors (1-5, 1-2 Mid-State) used their superior size and speed and appeared to be powering their way past their conference rival. Trouble was, they couldn’t sustain that in the second half.
Martinsville (2-4, 2-2) snapped a four-game series losing streak.
If past history was any indication, the game was due to provide fireworks on the scoreboard for Whiteland. In their previous four contests against the Artesians, the Warriors had averaged 53 points.
The fireworks were there on two big plays in the first half, as senior running backs Preston Phillips and Ryan Hammond scored on runs of 50 and 65 yards within two minutes of each other.
Martinsville countered with a 40-yard pass from Jon Collier to Matt Thomas and a remarkable 49-yard field goal by the Caleb Urban during an explosive second quarter.
Hammond and Phillips and Hammond had quite the start, rushing for 156 and 134 yards, respectively — in the first half.
The story was much different in the second half, though, specifically the third quarter, when Whiteland, which gained 331 yards in the first half, had only 13 more.
Of course, Martinsville had a lot to do with that, keeping the Warriors to only two possessions in that half while scoring 13 points, six on a pair of Urban field goals.
The Artesians also recovered an onside kick after a score and didn’t waste the opportunity, scoring on a Travis Griffey 6-yard run.
But what really put the hurt to the Warriors was Collier’s second long strike to a wide-open Thomas in the fourth quarter, this one for an 81-yard touchdown that stunned everyone wearing orange and blue.
Collier later hit Darius Stillman from 6 yards out for the Artesians’ final tally.
Hammond scored from the 1-yard line with 4:56 left and the Warriors got as far as the Artesian 20-yard line with 2 minutes to go, but the comeback bid stalled there.
Whiteland travels to winless Mooresville next week.