Max Kutch + Opportunistic Defense Propel White Oak to First-Round Blowout of Mount Vernon
GILMER -- Since losing star quarterback Heath Hood to a broken collarbone three weeks ago, the White Oak Roughnecks have been searching for other players to fill the void.
In Thursday night's playoff opener, that person was senior Max Kutch, who caught three touchdown passes and scored defensively in White Oak's 46-12 rout of Mount Vernon in a Class 3A Division I, Region II bi-district clash at Jeff Traylor Stadium.
White Oak (10-1) will meet the winner of Friday night's game between Pottsboro (8-2) and Kemp (7-3) in the area round next week, while Mount Vernon finished its season at 5-5.
The Roughnecks are hopeful that Hood, who has more than 2,700 passing yards and 31 touchdowns in seven-plus games, could return in a week or two.
Backup quarterback, sophomore Dalton Sumrow, competed 18 of 21 attempts for 153 yards and four touchdowns. Kutch finished with a team-best six catches for 90 yards.
Kutch, a cornerback on defense, returned a fumble 61 yards for a touchdown on the first snap of the second quarter, one of three lost fumbles on the night for Mount Vernon. White Oak scored 20 points off the three Tigers turnovers.
Connor Hearron led the Roughnecks on the ground with 94 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
The White Oak defense, which scored twice off takeaways to help build a 28-6 halftime lead, was dominant in the second half. Mount Vernon managed just 70 yards over the third and fourth quarters, as its only scoring drive of the second half was set up by a 26-yard return of a White Oak onside kick.
Kason Pletcher led Mount Vernon's Wing-T rushing attack with 68 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Kevi Evans added 62 yards on 16 attempts, as the Tigers picked up just 181 rushing yards on 56 attempts as a team.
White Oak had only 267 yards of total offense, but five of its six first-half possessions began in Mount Vernon territory. Two of the Roughnecks' three scoring drives in the second half started deep on the Tigers' end of the field as well.
The Roughnecks got as far as the Mount Vernon 5-yard line on the first series of the game, but Sumrow was intercepted on fourth down at the 2 by Tigers sophomore defender Daniel Arnold.
Mount Vernon then marched 80 yards to draw first blood, taking its only lead of the night on Cameron Woods' 36-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful, leaving the Tigers ahead 6-0 with 5:45 remaining in the first quarter.
White Oak recovered the ensuing onside kick at the Mount Vernon 49, and got on the board with Sumrow's 13-yard touchdown pass to Kutch. Conner Weeks' extra point gave the 'Necks a 7-6 lead with 3:51 to go in the opening quarter.
Mount Vernon's Taylor Ibarra was separated from the ball by Chase Reeves on the first play of the second quarter, and Kutch recovered, then raced 61 yards to the end zone for a 14-6 White Oak lead.
John Thomsett picked up a loose ball after Mount Vernon quarterback Jake Graf's backward pass fell to the turf, and returned it to the Tigers' 9. Sumrow's 8-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Cook two plays later opened up a 21-6 lead for the Roughnecks.
With a little more than one minute remaining in the half, another backward pass on fourth-and-short resulted in a 7-yard loss with White Oak taking over at the Mount Vernon 39. Kutch's 30-yard scoring reception increased the lead to 28-6 with 33 seconds until halftime.
White Oak then recovered an onside kick, but the first-half clock expired before the 'Necks could inflict any more damage.
Hearron's 15-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-short pushed the lead to 34-12 late in the third quarter, but Pletcher returned a White Oak onside-kick attempt 26 yards to the Roughnecks' 26. And Pletcher scored two plays later with an 8-yard touchdown run.
Kutch's third touchdown reception on fourth-and-goal from the 8 came with 5:27 remaining in the game, and after another Mount Vernon fumble, backup running back Dallas Reeves closed the door on the Tigers with a 4-yard touchdown run.
White Oak 46, Mount Vernon 12
Class 3A Division I
Region II Bi-District Playoff
At Jeff Traylor Stadium, Gilmer
Mount Vernon 6 0 6 0 -- 12
White Oak 7 21 6 12 -- 46
MV--Cameron Woods 36 run (run failed), 5:45.
WO--Max Kutch 13 pass from Dalton Sumrow (Conner Weeks kick), 3:51.
WO--Kutch 61 fumble return (Weeks kick), 11:44.
WO--Brandon Cook 8 pass from Sumrow (Weeks kick), 9:09.
WO--Kutch 30 pass from Sumrow (Weeks kick), :33.
WO--Connor Hearron 15 run (kick failed), 1:47.
MV--Kason Pletcher 8 run (pass failed), 1:29.
WO--Kutch 8 pass from Sumrow (kick failed), 5:27.
WO--Dallas Reeves 4 run (kick failed), 4:27.
First Downs 13 13
Total Yards 211 267
Rushes-Yards 56-181 26-114
Passing Yards 30 153
Comp.-Att.-Int. 1-5-0 18-21-1
Punts-Avg. 0-0 3-34.7
Fumbles-Lost 5-3 0-0
Penalties-Yards 7-50 8-55
RUSHING--Mount Vernon, Kason Pletcher 15-68, Kevi Evans 16-62, Cameron Woods 6-38, Taylor Ibarra 4-25, John Haller 7-20, Mason Huddleston 1-0, Jake Graf 8-(-11), Team 1-(-21). White Oak, Connor Hearron 19-94, Dallas Reeves 2-12, Kason Kienzle 1-10, Dalton Sumrow 4-(-2).
PASSING--Mount Vernon, Graf 1-4-0--30, Ibarra 0-1-0--0. White Oak, Sumrow 18-21-1--153.
RECEIVING--Mount Vernon, Ibarra 1-30. White Oak, Max Kutch 6-90, Kienzle 3-24, Brandon Cook 3-20, Antonio Castiglione 2-10, Caleb Hampton 1-3, Hearron 1-2, Jaylon Jeffery 1-2, Elijah Trest 1-2.