The field at Reservoir had long since turned to glop by the time Avian White took the ball late in the fourth quarter. His once white pants were nearly black with mud, and his cleats squished in the guck as he ran untouched toward the end zone.
White wondered afterwards if the Lions had let him score with 1 minute 37 seconds left to get one final possession. But as he stood in the rain savoring a much-needed win, it really didn’t matter.
White ran for 169 yards on 30 carries Friday night in Fulton, leading the Gators to a 13-6 win over Howard. It was their first win on homecoming night in four years.
“The coaches told me it was going to be kind of a bad game,” he said. “They told me to just keep my feet moving, and that’s what I did.”
White was the workhorse, steadily racking up carries and accounting for all but 53 of Reservoir’s total yards. But it was the defense that might have won the game for the Gators (4-2, 4-2 Howard County).
Howard had the ball on the Gators’ 6-yard-line with less than 4 minutes remaining in the game. The Lions jumped offsides twice, and Reservoir’s defensive front stopped running back Terrell Charles on three straight plays. Grant McMullan and Dominic Lopes stuffed Charles on fourth down to give the ball back to White and the offense.
“That’s going to go down as one of the best defensive stops in Reservoir history,” White said.
White averaged 55 yards in his first three games this season. In his past three, including Friday, he has averaged 197.
Coach Bryan Cole knew that he would have to rely on his sturdy senior running back given the steady rain that began hours before kickoff. But Cole also believed that White would be up for the challenge.
“We kind of thought that with his size and agility, he’d be okay,” Cole said. “We didn’t think he’d be slipping and sliding. He’s not the guy that cuts real quick. He’s more of a downhill runner so we thought that would work out pretty well. And it did.”
Neither team could get much going on offense all night. The Gators scored first on the opening kickoff, when Lopes forced and recovered a fumble en route to a 25-yard score. Reservoir had a 7-0 lead before 15 seconds had ticked off the clock.
But Howard (4-2, 4-2) also scored on a sloppy play later in the quarter, when Reservoir’s field goal attempt ricocheted off the back of an offensive lineman. Shane Kieta picked the ball up and ran the length of the field to bring the Lions to within 7-6.
“Those types of games, man, it’s give and take,” Cole said. “We thought all week that it’d be a good matchup, and to come down to something like this? We’ll take it.”