Whiteland quarterback Adam Gutermuth waited to the very end of the line to slap hands with the victorious Columbus North football team.
Gutermuth still looked a bit stunned following North’s 35-33 victory in a terrific Class 5A sectional game at Columbus North High School on Friday night.
“I thought we had it in there,” said Gutermuth, who saw three Warriors possessions come up empty in the fourth quarter. “We had to make a play.”
“It just wasn’t there.”
In reality, Whiteland (6-4) made a ton of plays through the first three quarters of an offensive shootout. But after gashing the Bull Dogs’ defense for most of the game, the big plays all went the other direction in the final quarter.
The final dart in the eye came with 80 seconds remaining when North defensive end Luke Teague intercepted Gutermuth’s fourth-and-5 pass at the Warriors’ 45-yard line. Teague returned it to the 20-yard line, and a penalty moved it all the way to the 10. Leading 35-33, the Bull Dogs simply needed to take a knee three times to end the game.
The previous Warriors drive ended when a 30-yard field-goal attempt was pulled to the left of the goal posts. Whiteland had a first-and-goal at the 5-yard line, but Teague dropped tailback Aaron Harris (21 carries for 115 yards) for a 3-yard loss. Then North defensive end Thomas Shoaf dumped Harris for a 4-yard loss on the next play.
On third-and-goal from the 13, Gutermuth’s pass into the end zone for Isaiah Calaway was inches too long.
The previous Whiteland fourth-quarter drive was snuffed out on downs.