Bulldogs hold off West End, 44-36

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By Stan Veitch/Sports Correspondent

Despite the fact that high school football games last 48 minutes, they are sometimes decided in a matter of seconds.

That is exactly what happened last Friday (Oct. 9) in Walnut Grove, as Gaston outlasted West End, 44-36, in a Class 2A, Region 7 matchup.

With only 21.7 seconds left in the first half, the Patriots were forced to punt, with Gaston nursing a 22-15 lead.

Seconds later, Bulldog quarterback Jordan Douglas connected with Jashun Cammeron on a 44-yard pass. The second play was a 20-yard touchdown pass to Zack Satterfield. In those few seconds – and after a two-point run by Douglas – Gaston’s halftime lead was increased to 30-15.

“That killed us,” Patriot coach Kyle Davis said. “If we had held them off before the half, it might’ve been a different ending. But I take personal blame for the big plays.”

Davis explained that he had swapped the responsibilities of a couple of his secondary players and in the sideline huddle had forgotten to remind them.

“If I had reminded them and they had covered the receivers correctly, who knows?”

West End had time for one play, but Cammeron intercepted a last-second heave.

For the most part, other than that crucial series, the game was back and forth.

We held serve and managed to get ahead of serve,” Gaston coach Swane Morris said. “Sometimes you just need an ace to get yourself in position to win.”

The first half was a battle of evenly matched teams, with no punts. On the game’s opening series, though, West End turned the ball over on downs.

The Bulldogs responded with a field-covering drive that ended in a 40-yard touchdown run by Douglas. A two-point conversion attempt failed.

Minutes later, the Patriots (4-3, 2-3) went ahead 7-6, scoring on a 12-yard pass from Hunter Grant to Dustin Goodwin. Payne Stancil’s PAT followed.

The Bulldogs’ (5-2, 2-2) ensuing drive ended in a 24-yard Douglas pass to Dylan Gilchrist. Douglas then ran for two points.

The Patriots appeared to have scored on their own big play – an 86-yard pass to Caegan Epperson – but a holding penalty brought it back. It didn’t hold West End down, however, as the Pats scored five plays later on a 3-yard Grant rush. Grant connected with Andre Little for two points and a 15-14 lead. It was a very unusual PAT conversion. Instead of the normal three yards, penalties forced the Patriots to get in from 35 yards out.

Gaston again responded with a touchdown – this time a 57-yard Douglas pass to Alexander Allen. Douglas’ two-point run put his team ahead by a 22-15 lead – a lead that seemed as if it would hold until halftime.

Douglas finished with 119 yards on 19 carries. He completed 11-of-14 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns.

Cammeron rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. D.J. Pope contributed 81 yards on 17 runs.

“All of them had great nights,” Morris said. “The fact that we are able to throw the ball increased that for us. People have to spread out and then they have to account for all three of them.”

Big plays were the signature of the second half.

Gaston first scored on a 56-yard run by Cammeron. With only seconds left in the third quarter, the Patriots responded with a 34-yard pass to Gage Lankford.

After forcing a Bulldogs punt, West End got within 38-28 on a 45-yard pass to Little. Gaston scored its final touchdown with only 2:05 left to play – on a 29-yard Douglas run.

West End then drove the length of the field and netted a touchdown as time expired. Grant connected with Dustin Goodwin for a 5-yard touchdown pass. Lankford caught a two-point pass for the game’s final points.

“We knew we couldn’t tie or win the game,” Davis said. “That drive was just us, playing to the end. Our kids never quit trying.
“I felt like we had the momentum for most of the second half and if we hadn’t felt sorry for ourselves in the first half, we might’ve given them a better game.”

Grant completed 24-of-44 passes for 393 yards and three touchdowns and one interception.

“We might should have thrown the ball 100 times,” Davis said.

Little caught nine passes for 140 yards and one touchdown.

Gaston hosts Collinsville in a crucial region game next week while West End travels to region foe Fyffe.

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