By Jeff Robison
PLAINFIELD — Holding onto the football in wet weather isn’t easy. And for the Plainfield Quakers on Friday night, mishandling the football proved costly as the Quakers’ four fumbles all led to Whiteland touchdowns and helped the visiting Warriors to a 39-14 victory in this Mid-State Conference contest.
Mistakes quickly put Plainfield in the hole and each mistake seemed to compound the Quakers’ position on the scoreboard. Whiteland jumped out to a 14-0 start before either team fully warmed up.
And with three costly first half fumbles and an inability to fully stop the Warriors rushing game, it became a very cold and wet senior night for coach Brian Woodard and his team.
“We were own worst enemies tonight,” Woodard said. “If you make those kind of mistakes against a quality opponent, that’s the scoreboard.”
A penalty denied Whiteland’s Aaron Harris a touchdown on the opening kickoff, but the Warriors eventually got a two-yard scoring run from Harris out of the resulting short field. Whiteland compounded its advantage by turning Augie Blevins’ fumble on Plainfield’s first offensive play into a 25-yard scoring pass from Aaron Gutermuth to Isaiah Callaway.
Plainfield did get a short momentum swing when Zac Richardson took the next kickoff deep into Warrior territory, leading Chad Middleton’s four-yard touchdown run.
The Plainfield defense struggled to turn away Whiteland’s running game while the Plainfield offense denied a score to itself when quarterback Jacob Jay lost a snap at Whiteland’s one-yard line.
Though the Quakers forced Whiteland to its lone punt after Jay’s fumble, that stop went for naught when Plainfield committed its third fumble of the night on the punt return.
Again, the Warriors capitalized with Harris, who ran for a total of 188 yards and three touchdowns, capping off the first half with a one-yard carry for a 27-7 lead at the break.
“This has been the tale of our loss at Greenwood and tonight,” Woodard said. “We’ve been OK on offense, but we’ve struggled to make stops. I want more than anything for this group to learn to play through their mistakes. Hopefully, we can get things turned back the right direction.”
Plainfield’s offense looked good to start the second half as the senior duo of Jay and Middleton connected on 31-yard pass play that led to Middleton finding the corner of the end zone on a 14-yard double reverse, closing the game back to 27-14.
However, Blevins had another fumble in the second half, one that Whiteland sandwiched between scores. Gutermuth scored a two-yard run before the fumble, while Mark Shaw got the last score on a four-yard reverse.
The loss dropped Plainfield (5-3, 3-2) out of contention in conference play and the Quakers take to the road next Friday, heading to Martinsville.