Whiteland jumped out to a big lead then held on for dear life to score a 52-42 win at Mooresville on Friday night.
The Warriors scored on their first three possessions of the game and led 24-0 just seconds into the second quarter, but Mooresville never gave up. The Pioneers rallied and took the lead late before Whiteland pulled away in the final minutes for its second win of the season.
Whiteland’s Ryan Hammond, Matt Luechtefeld and Jake Perry took turns running past Mooresville in the first half, with Hammond doing most of the damage. He scored on runs on 10 yards and 38 yards and added a 5-yard touchdown reception and three two-point conversions for an early 24-0 lead.
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A quarterback switch on Mooresville’s next series spurred the Pioneers’ comeback. Junior Karson Goodman replaced starter Eli Bunch and began tearing through the Whiteland defense, culminating in a 13-yard scoring pass to Jon Eineman to cut the lead to 24-6.
After Mooresville (0-7, 0-5 Mid-State) forced Whiteland’s first punt of the game, Goodman marched the Pioneers down the field again and hit Eineman on a 4-yard fade to the corner of the end zone to pull his team within 24-13.
The Pioneers pulled within four early in the third quarter on a Goodman 14-yard score, but Whiteland answered with a 5-yard run by Hammond. Goodman hit Kyler Evans on a 30-yard scoring pass to cut the margin back to four, 31-27.
Whiteland (2-5, 2-2) answered with a 7-yard pass from Iyan Pelfree to Hammond to push the lead to 38-27, but Mooresville came right back, with a 4-yard run run by James Mabry and the two-point conversion.
After a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Goodman needed only two plays to get the Pioneers back in the end zone, scoring on a 7-yard pass to Bradley Axsom to put Mooresville up 42-38 with just under seven minutes to play.
But Whiteland answered, scoring on a 22-yard run by Hammond to go back on top 45-42, then recovered a short kickoff to regain possession. Perry scored on a 44-yard run to put Whiteland ahead by 10.
Mooresville came up short on fourth down with less than two minutes to play to allow Whiteland to escape with the win.
Whiteland finished with 421 yards on the ground, led by Hammond, who had 257 yards on 21 carries with four touchdowns.