Photo: West End quarterback Eli Pearce prepares to pitch the ball during the Patriots’ 56-14 loss to Susan Moore on Aug. 22 in Blountsville. (Shannon J. Allen/Sand Mountain Reporter)
By Shannon J. Allen/Sand Mountain Reporter
A sign on the fence along the Susan Moore High School sideline featured the message “The Bite is Back.”
The Bulldogs proved that to be true early against West End on Aug. 22, chomping their way to a 28-0 lead at the first-quarter break.
Susan Moore’s margin swelled to 49-0 at the half on the way to a 56-14 victory in Blountsville.
The Bulldogs’ 42-point margin of victory tied their 1974 team for their largest in series history. Susan Moore beat the Patriots 42-0 in ’74.
“[There’s] not much you can say about that; they beat us,” West End head coach Kyle Davis said. “I felt like my coaches did a good job. I felt like we prepared our kids. Susan Moore hit us in the mouth and blew us off the football. They jumped on us quick, and I think we kind of backed off and we kind of let them have it. [It was] definitely not the outcome we wanted. [It was] not what we felt like we’ve seen from our kids in practice. We’ll get on track and we’ll fix it.”
Tanner Sisson dashed 58 yards for a touchdown on the opening possession of the game, giving Susan Moore the lead for good. Jesus Aguilar converted the first of his eight extra points, making it 7-0.
The Bulldogs intercepted a pass on West End’s third play of the season, and the resulting drive saw Anthony Cervantes score on a 5-yard run with 6:11 left in the first quarter.
Mason Barnett’s 48-yard punt pinned the Bulldogs on their 10-yard line, but they responded with a three-play scoring drive. Camden Lackey connected with Gavin Harper for a 53-yard gain to West End’s 37-yard line. On the next play, Ramon Maldonado sprinted 37 yards to the end zone with 2:14 left. Aguilar kicked it to 21-0.
Susan Moore marched 58 yards for its final points of the first quarter. The officials penalized West End’s defense for a personal foul on the final play of the period. On an untimed down, Cervantes ran 20 yards for his second TD of the night.
The Bulldogs covered 63 yards on their next series, extending their advantage to 35-0. The eighth play of the drive saw Cervantes collect his third touchdown, this time on a 2-yard carry with 4:18 remaining in the second quarter.
Susan Moore’s defense contributed its next touchdown, as Trevor Black returned an interception 9 yards with 2:47 to go.
Maldonado, a freshman, completed the Bulldogs’ first-half onslaught with a 43-yard touchdown run just 25 seconds before intermission. Aguilar’s kick made it 49-0.
West End avoided the shutout by driving 78 yards in five plays.
Eli Pearce tossed completions of 37 yards to Jeremiah Roberson and 15 yards to Jacob Camacho, moving the Patriots deep into Susan Moore territory. Pearce finished the drive with an 8-yard scoring toss to Roberson.
Pearce converted for two points on a tackle-breaking run, trimming it to 49-8 with 6:11 left in the third period.
Maldonado provided Susan Moore’s only TD of the second half, and his third of the night, by sprinting 34 yards on a fourth-and-15 play with 24 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Aguilar’s extra point made it 56-8.
A special teams mistake set up West End’s second touchdown. A low Bulldogs’ punt went backward after hitting one of their linemen’s helmets, and the Patriots took over at Susan Moore’s 13-yard line. Three plays later, Pearce threw a 7-yard scoring pass to Roberson with 33 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Susan Moore’s defense stuffed Pearce on the two-point conversion run.
“We’ve just got to go back to work, watch film and fix the mistakes that we made,” said Davis. “We’ve got Pleasant Valley next week. We’ve got two [more] warmup games to get us ready for the region.”