By Matthew Martin/Sports Correspondent
For all the talk about Gaston’s potent offense, future opponents need to worry about the Bulldogs’ defense as well.
Gaston turned a defensive fight into a rout in the second half, thanks to a defense that did not bend, or break, leading the Bulldogs to a 26-0 win against Westbrook Friday (Oct. 4) in Class 2A, Region 7 high school football action.
Gaston coach Swane Morris likened the Bulldogs defense to bricks in a house, with each brick filling its spot. Said brick wall never allowed much for Westbrook, either on the ground or through the air.
“I was so proud of them,” Morris said. “I told the kids before the game, ‘You’re as prepared as you’ve ever been.’ It seems like we responded all week to our gameplan, and everything sort of went in line, when the game started.”
Westbrook (3-3, 2-2) was limited to minus-29 yards on the ground and made it inside the Gaston 20-yard line only once. Five Warrior drives were held to three-and-out as the visitors never could establish any rhythm offensively.
Westbrook, however, matched Gaston (4-2, 2-2), defensively in the first half.
The Bulldogs were unable to sustain any offensive momentum, minus one drive.
Gaston had an eight-play, 60-yard series highlighted by Braxton Collins’ 20-yard touchdown run. The lead stood with the Bulldogs heading to the locker room with the 7-0 advantage.
The third quarter saw a change from the defensive stalemate, although the offensive explosion was all one-sided in favor of the homestanding Bulldogs.
Jailyn Britton extended his team’s lead to 13-0 on a 6-yard touchdown run with 8:02 remaining in the third quarter.
“Jailyn, he always seems to run enough,” Morris said. “Somebody asked me how fast he was, and I said, ‘He’s fast enough.’ He just seems to be able to stay ahead of people, and he had a heck of a game tonight.”
Collins’ second score of the night, with 1:54 left in the third quarter, pushed Gaston’s lead to 20-0.
Shai Ogles concluded the scoring on an electrifying 11-yard run with 8:03 left in the game.
Britton led Gaston with 130 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Ogles had 90 yards and a touchdown, while Collins had 16 carries for 77 yards and the two scores.
Warrior freshman quarterback Wil Appleton, who was 15-of-32 in passing for 205 yards, was constantly harassed by the Bulldogs front seven in being sacked six times and knocked down o several other occasions.
“You have to give Gaston credit,” Westbrook coach Tony Osborne said. “They played with a lot of energy and a lot of passion. They played extremely hard. I said this week, they’re probably one of the most talented teams the region, maybe the most talented. But we knew that coming in. We’re lacking in some areas, but we’re going to look at the film and try to get better and take it one week at a time.”
Both teams continue region play next week, with Gaston traveling to Fyffe and Westbrook hosting Sand Rock.