NASHVILLE — Pearl-Cohn increased its hold on District 5-4A with a 48-0 win over district foe White House.
Here are five takeaways from the Firebirds’ win.
Pearl-Cohn quarterback Xavier Shepherd definitely had the hot hand for the Firebirds. Shepherd was directly involved in Pearl-Cohn’s first three touchdowns as the signal caller put up touchdown runs of 11 and 33 yards to open the game, and his 21-yard touchdown pass to Jimmyrious Parker gave Pearl-Cohn (8-0, 4-0) as 20-0 lead going into halftime.
Shepherd had three passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns. Shepherd had 176 yards through the air, and 92 rushes on six carries to pace the Firebirds.
Shepherd said after the game his team has confidence that they can put up points quickly. “We started out slow, but when we started making plays it carried over, and we can score a lot when we get going.”
Drive-thru still open
White House (0-8, 0-4) opened the game with a 10-play drive that took the Blue Devils out to near midfield before being forced to punt. The drive lasted nearly six minutes, and gave the Blue Devils early momentum.
White House coach Jeff Porter was pleased with his team’s first-half offensive production, and overall effort.
“We opened the game with a long drive that flipped the field on Pearl, and we hadn’t done that all year to start,” Porter said.
The 10-play drive (all runs) did much to keep the ball out of the hands of Pearl-Cohn, who responded with Shepherd’s 11-yard touchdown run three minutes later.
However, White House only trailed 7-0 against the one-loss Firebirds until Shepherd’s second scoring run with 3:10 before halftime.
In the “Nix” of time
White House had its second offensive flurry just before halftime, trailing 20-0 as quarterback Andrew Nixon completed a pair of 18-yard passes to Seth Bumbalough, and a 11-yard strike to Cameron Casanova that got the Blue Devils down to the 29-yard line.
A four-yard pass to Connor Holder combined with a roughing the passer penalty placed the ball on the Pearl-Cohn 10-yard line with no time on the clock left. However, an Austin Rutherford 27-yard field goal was blocked going into halftime.
Don’t be so defensive
Pearl-Cohn’s defense gave White House problems most of the night. The Blue Devils’ run game proved non-effective as the gained 92 yards on 44 carries. Carter Hunt had 24 carries for 57 yards to provide the bulk of the yardage.
The aerial game struggled outside of the last drive of the last. Nixon completed 5-of-5 passes in the first half for 78 yards, but saw a lot of trouble in the second half.
Nixon was 0 of 3 in the second half with two interceptions. The final interception found its way into the hands of Hunter who raced 40 yards of the score.
Going in opposite directions
Pearl-Cohn has won six straight since dropping a 49-7 decision to Montgomery Bell Academy in Week 2.
The Firebirds appear to be building momentum toward another deep playoff appearance. Pearl-Cohn finished Class 4A state runner-up to Knoxville Catholic who defeated the Firebirds 48-8.
Conversely, White House is heading in the opposite direction. The winless Blue Devils have now had consecutive losing seasons since the program had six-straight from 1976-1981.
Last year was the first year since 1981 that White House had a losing record, and it was the first for coach Jeff Porter who took over the program in 1987. White House finished with Page and Maplewood.
“These next two games are really important for the program going forward,” Porter said. “We want to build on something for next year, but our kids have really played with effort this year. We need the positives going into the off season.”