Craig Harris/Macon County Times Macon County High junior Landon Whittemore (89) and senior Rodney Tuck (52) tackle White County senior Will Griggs.

Craig Harris/Macon County Times

Macon County High junior Landon Whittemore (89) and senior Rodney Tuck (52) tackle White County senior Will Griggs.

SPARTA -- Isaac Belton rushed for a career-high 150 yards and four touchdowns as the Macon County High football team played through a consistent rain in capturing a 48-13 victory at White County last Friday evening at Dee Harris Field.

"It's cold … but it can be fun," Belton said of the steady rain. "It's tough. You have to hold on to the football. I've been working on holding on to the football."

The Tigers fumbled just once, and that mishandled snap came with the second-string offense in the game in the fourth quarter.

"We told our guys that we are kind of built for this," Macon County head coach Kyle Shoulders said. "It's running between the tackles, ground and pound, play defense and great special teams play.

"We put emphasis this week on ball security. It's been an issue this season. Yesterday in practice, we worked with a wet ball. It didn't necessarily make us hang on to the football, but it gave us confidence that we were not going to fumble."

Conversely, the Warriors were victims of an early fumble, which led to the second Tiger touchdown.

Macon County (5-4) opened the game with a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drive.

"When we went out to stretch, everybody was whooping and hollering, but there was no goofing off," Belton said. "It was all business. Everybody meant business."

On the final play of that opening possession - a third-and-5 play from the 15 yard line - Tiger junior Ethan Jenkins took the handoff on a misdirection play and ran to the end zone.

"If you run the football, you win the football game," Shoulders said. "The guys up front (the offensive linemen) had a little chip on their shoulder. We challenged them this week. We challenged them to step up and play with that intensity level (that is needed). They responded."

That opening drive lasted 8:30.

Then, on the sixth play of White County's first possession, Warrior senior quarterback Sedryk Leftwich fumble while fighting for extra yardage, and Macon County junior Landon Whittemore recovered at the White County 21 yard line.

Shortly thereafter, on third-and-goal from the 10 yard line, Jenkins threw a halfback pass to wide-open Cameron Mercer in the end zone for a touchdown.

Senior Ryan Underwood's second successful point-after touchdown (PAT) kick created a 14-0 margin with 8:58 remaining in the first half.

The Warriors had a special-teams miscue on their next possession, with punter Will Cheek mishandling a snap that resulted in a 15-yard loss that gave the Tigers possession at the White County 32 yard line.

Belton ripped off a 16-yard touchdown run five plays later, which gave his squad a 20-0 lead with 3:26 remaining in the first half.

"We were anticipating a particular look up front (from the Warrior defensive front)," Shoulders said. "We worked one in particular, and that's the one we didn't get.

"But our guys knew their rules. They were able to adjust up front to the different look they were giving us. They stayed true to their rules. It gave us success."

Macon County had one more first-half possession that started in Warrior territory, but that opportunity ended when senior quarterback Jon Mark Gammons was intercepted.

The Tigers' first possession of the second half was highlighted by Belton's 44-yard breakaway.

He capped the five-play, 64-yard march three plays later with a 7-yard touchdown run.

White County (5-4) started its ensuing possession at the Macon County 47 yard line thanks to sophomore D.J. Paul's 40-yard return.

On fourth-and-8 from the 14 yard line, Leftwich threw a pass to junior Ethan Light, who abruptly lateraled the football to freshman Malaki Dowell to cover the final 5 yards to the end zone.

Cheek's successful PAT trimmed the lead to 27-7 late in the third quarter.

"We wanted to get a shutout, but we didn't get that," Belton said. "Take away a couple of big plays, and we do get that shutout.

"Of the 13 points they scored, only seven were from the defense."

However, Belton had 8-yard touchdown runs with 9:49 remaining and again with 6:54 showing, the second of which came following a 37-yard loss on a botched punt attempt.

"They did amazing," Belton said of his offensive linemen. "We practiced different looks all week. Every time we got a different look, they picked it up. They're the reason I got what I got tonight."

Then, Belton intercepted a pass with 6:43 remaining, and first-down runs by sophomore Landon Colter and freshman Nate Green set up junior Hunter Herron's 19-yard touchdown run.

Senior Brady Flores tacked on the PAT to create a 48-7 margin.

White County freshman Nate Mullins returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards to cap the scoring.

The Tigers finished with 318 rushing yards and attempted just two passes.

The Warriors were limited to 78 total yards.

Macon County hosts Livingston Academy, the lone unbeaten team in Region 3-4A, on Friday evening. A Tiger win and a DeKalb County win over Cumberland County would create a three-way tie in 3-4A between Macon County, DeKalb County and Livingston Academy, with Livingston Academy earning the No. 1 seed, DeKalb County as the No. 2 seed, and Macon County as the No. 3 seed in that scenario due to tiebreakers.

Only the top two teams in 3-4A host playoff games, with the next two teams traveling for their playoff opener.

In order for Macon County to host a playoff game, the Tigers need to defeat Livingston Academy and also need Cumberland County to upset DeKalb County.

"We're looking forward to strapping it up against whoever," Shoulders said.

Belton added, "I'm more than excited. If we want a shot to host a playoff game, we have to win. I don't want it to be my last home game. If we can get a win and Cumberland County can come through for us, we might get a home game. I'm excited."

Macon County|7 13 7 21 – 48

White County|0 0 7 6 – 13

MC – Ethan Jenkins 15 run. Ryan Underwood kick. MC – Cameron Mercer 10 pass from Jenkins. Underwood kick. MC – Isaac Belton 16 run. Kick failed. MC – Belton 7 run. Underwood kick. WC – Malaki Dowell 5 run. Will Cheek kick. MC – Belton 8 run. Underwood kick. MC – Belton 8 run. Underwood kick. MC – Hunter Herron 19 run. Brady Flores kick. WC – Nate Mullins 99 kickoff return. Kick failed.

|MC|WC

First downs|17|8

Rushes-yards|47-318|37-40

Comp-Att-Ints|1-2-1|4-13-1

Passing yards|10|38

Fumbles-Lost|1-0|3-1

Punts-Avg.|1-26|2-17.5

Penalties-Yards|0-0|7-81

RUSHING

Macon County – Isaac Belton 18-150, Ethan Jenkins 9-50, Hunter Herron 7-45,  Landon Colter 3-28, Nate Green  3-21, Dylan Chupp 2-20, Braydee Brooks 2-2, Landon Whittemore 1-1, Cameron Houston 2-1.

White County – Jayden Richmond 11-44, Sedryck Leftwich 15-38, Malaki Dowell 5-14, Kade Clark 2-0, Will Griggs 2-(-4), Will Cheek 2-(-52).

PASSING

Macon County – Ethan Jenkins 1-1-10-0, Jon Mark Gammons 0-1-0-1.

White County – Sedryck Leftwich 4-12-38-0, Noah Hamilton 0-1-0-1.

RECEIVING

Macon County – Cameron Mercer 1-10.

White County – Ethan Light 3-17, Jayden Richmond 1-21.