Denmark head coach Terry Crowder needed some time to gather
himself after Friday’s game against White County. With his team celebrating on
the field with parents and classmates, Crowder leaned over with his hands on
his knees and looked on with a blank look on his face.
The Danes’ 28-27 victory over the Warriors had multiple sides to it: In one sense, Denmark fell short, failing to win by a margin that would give the Danes the best position in a potential three-way tiebreaker scenario. But in the other, the one that set the mood on the field, they succeeded thrillingly, driving 52 yards for a touchdown in less than two minutes to get the win.
“It’s been a hard two weeks, and for us to come back and win like we did, that’s the true character of this football team,” Crowder said. “They don’t never quit.”
Denmark entered the evening coming off three consecutive losses: a 48-27 defeat to West Hall and two blowouts against state powers, 47-6 to Blessed Trinity and 57-7 to Marist. The Danes’ mood didn’t shift immediately, though, as White County led 14-0 by the beginning of the second quarter, with Denmark’s offense severely limited by the injury-related absences of receivers Teddy Davenport and Adonnis Tolbert.
The Danes were particularly aggressive on offense, too, keeping in mind that a win by 12 or more points would give them a point in a potential tiebreaker with White County and West Hall. Denmark turned it over on downs three times on fourth-and-goal situations, choosing the chance at more points over a chip-shot field goal.
But the Danes climbed back before halftime, with Devin duCille running a score in from seven yards out with eight minutes left and Matthew Cassandra punching another in from a yard out with 2:32 left.
After a scoreless third quarter, White County went up 21-14 on a two-yard touchdown run with 10:27 to play. Denmark lost a fumble and the Warriors punted before Danes receiver Ze’Vian Capers tied the score with a spectacular 81-yard touchdown catch-and-run, grabbing a short pass over the middle and veering over to the left sideline, where he found space to run.
White County hit back, with quarterback J. Ben Haynes scoring on a 57-yard touchdown run, but the Warriors left 1:49 on the clock for Denmark. Crowder knew the team’s plan for the drive.
“I just knew get to the ball to Ze’Vian, and get the ball to (Nick) Carozza,” Crowder said. “They’re two guys that are really good football players against anybody.”
Danes quarterback Ben Whitlock twice found Capers on receptions to convert third downs, and the pair connected on a 16-yard pass that brought the Danes to White County’s 13.
“I was telling Ben, ‘Let’s keep the tempo going – I’m going to be open,’” Capers said.
After an incompletion on the next play, Whitlock found Carozza with a throw up the middle for a 13-yard score. Trey Glymph hit the extra point, and the Danes stopped White County’s desperation lateral for the win.
Ben Whitlock to Nick Carozza, 13 yards for the score. 27-27, PAT to go. pic.twitter.com/i0qJENmOZ6— Ian Frazer (@ianmcfrazer) October 20, 2018
The postseason scenario in Region 5-7A could still break against the Danes, who improved to 5-4, 1-3 with the win. They would likely need help from last-place Chestatee, which West Hall and White County, both stuck at one win in region play, still have to face. But Crowder wasn’t thinking much about that when he started socializing with the win, smiling as he held tightly to the leash of one of Denmark’s live Great Dane mascots.
“We still have a shot now,” Crowder said. “A decent shot, I think. A win was the most important thing.”