In a game void of defense and a surplus of passing statistics, it was the running game that finally brought it home for Chapel Hill.
Bulldogs senior running back Andrew Tucker put up 253 yards of offense, scoring on a 40-yard run for the eventual game-winner in No. 1 Chapel Hill’s 59-49 win over Whitehouse on Thursday in the opener of the Trinity Mother Frances Kickoff Classic at Rose Stadium.
Jay Reagan put the finishing touches on Chapel Hill’s wild victory with a 33-yard run later in the fourth.
Tucker, whose score put Chapel Hill up 52-49 with 9:34 remaining in the fourth, ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns and also had four catches for 96 yards for Chapel Hill (2-0). Quarterback Avery Saenz threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns, plus ran for another 59 yards and two more scores.
Whitehouse’s trio of quarterback Hunter Taylor and receivers Jonathan Aldridge and Dylan Cantrell did the heavy lifting for the Wildcats (0-2). Taylor passed for 500 yards and five touchdowns, Aldridge finished with 214 yards and two TDs and Cantrell put up 161 yards and scored twice.
The game featured 118 points and 1,162 yards of offense.
“I am so proud of the way our offensive kids performed tonight,” Chapel Hill coach Thomas Sitton said. “Our offensive line played from whistle one to the end of the game. The receivers did a great job of catching the ball and breaking tackles.”
Chapel Hill put up 277 yards on the ground without the services of starting running back Rex Rollins, who was injured in the first half of last week’s game against Palestine Westwood.
Reagan finished with 67 yards on nine attempts.
“Jay did an awesome job out there and so did Andrew Tucker,” Sitton said. “They both run so hard.”
Until the latter stages of the fourth quarter, though, the Chapel Hill defense had no answer for Whitehouse and its penchant for big-play touchdowns.
Six of Whitehouse’s touchdowns covered more than 33 yards.
“Defensively, it was one of the worst tackling performances I’ve ever seen,” Sitton said. “We were probably the worst tackling 3A team in the state of Texas tonight. We will get it fixed.”
The first half was played at a feverish pace with both teams combining for 58 points and 606 yards.
All three of Taylor’s three first-half touchdown passes covered more than 50 yards – the first a 52-yard shovel pass to Zen’Derrion Haskins on third-and-15, followed by long, catch-and-run scores from Cantrell (57 yards) and Aldridge (58 yards).
Whitehouse’s fourth touchdown of the half came on a 2-yard run by Matt Gipson, which gave the Wildcats a short-lived 28-24 lead with 1:37 remaining until halftime.
With no timeouts, the Bulldogs marched 63 yards in eight plays and took a 30-28 lead at the break after Saenz scampered up the middle for a 9-yard touchdown run.
Saenz passed for a pair of touchdowns in the opening half – a 36-yarder to Nelson Onwuzu in the first quarter and a 2-yard strike on third down to Kendall Beal that put Chapel Hill in front 24-21 with 3:12 left in the half.
No. 1 Chapel Hill 59, Whitehouse 49
At Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium
Whitehouse 7 21 14 7 – 49
Chapel Hill 10 20 15 14 – 59
CH—FG, Tyler Brown 23, 6:43.
WH—Zen’Derrion Haskins 52 pass from Hunter Taylor (Brandon Cottrell kick), 3:53.
CH—Nelson Onwuzu 36 pass from Avery Saenz (Tyler Brown kick), :52.
CH—Andrew Tucker 4 run (Brown kick), 11:27.
WH—Dylan Cantrell 57 pass from Taylor (Cottrell kick), 10:38.
WH—Jonathan Aldridge 58 pass from Taylor (Cottrell kick), 4:42.
CH—Kendall Beal 2 pass from Saenz (Brown kick), 3:12.
WH—Matt Gipson 2 run (Cottrell kick), 1:37.
CH—Saenz 9 run (kick failed), :13.
WH—Cantrell 56 pass from Taylor (Cottrell kick), 5:41.
CH—Saenz 4 run (Tucker pass from Saenz), 4:49.
WH—Aldridge 33 pass from Taylor (Cottrell kick), 2:59.
CH—Anthony Kincade 10 pass from Saenz (Brown kick), :44.
WH—Taylor 47 run (Cottrell kick), 10:47.
CH—Tucker 40 run (Brown kick), 9:34.
CH—Jay Reagan 33 run (Brown kick), 3:55.
First Downs 22 32
Rushes-Yards 10-70 45-277
Passing Yards 500 315
Comp.-Att.-Int. 34-57-1 25-33-0
Punts-Avg. 4-32.0 3-36.7
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 9-58 13-114
RUSHING—Whitehouse, Hunter Taylor 3-32, Justin Bloom 1-20, Zen’Derrion Haskins 5-16, Matt Gipson 1-2. Chapel Hill, Andrew Tucker 20-157, Jay Reagan 9-67, Avery Saenz 15-59, Patrick Day 1-(-6).
PASSING—Whitehouse, Taylor 34-57-1—500. Chapel Hill, Saenz 25-33-0—315.
RECEIVING—Whitehouse, Jonathan Aldridge 11-214, Dylan Cantrell 9-161, Juan Martinez 7-20, Haskins 3-61, Bloom 2-28, Jackson Driggs 2-16. Chapel Hill, Anthony Kincade 8-103, Nelson Onwuzu 5-54, Tucker 4-96, Avery Henderson 3-26, Day 2-9, Reagan 1-15, Jalen Williams 1-10, Kendall Beal 1-2.