By Chris McCarthy/Editor
West End ended its regular season on a sour note last Friday (Oct. 28) in St. Clair County , falling to Ashville, 35-28.
The Patriots (5-5, 3-3) led 21-13 midway through the second quarter before the host Bulldogs (4-6, 2-5) scored a pair of touchdowns to take a 14-point lead after the third period.
West End drew within a touchdown on Jordan Malin’s 24-yard TD run on the first play of the fourth quarter. The visitors managed only two more offensive possessions, however, with both ending on failed fourth down conversion attempts.
West End head coach Kyle Davis pointed to his defense surrendering big plays as a major factor in the loss.
“You can’t give up three deep balls for touchdowns on blown coverages and expect to win. It’s mistakes like that that prevent you from winning games, especially on the road. We’re a good team when we execute, and we have a tough time pulling it out when we don’t.”
For the Patriots, Payne Stancil completed 12 of 21 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown. Andre Little caught eight passes for 162 yards and a score.
Malin rushed for 86 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, while Little ran five times for 57 yards.
West End struck first with 1:57 left in the first quarter on Malin’s 7-yard TD run and Stancil’s PAT.
Ashville answered on the following series when Kyle King scored from 34 yards out at the 9:31 mark of the second frame.
Stancil’s 27-yard scoring strike to Tyler Grant and Malin’s two-point conversion run regained the lead for the visitors at 7:25, but four plays later, Ashville quarterback Landon Cornutt found Hunter Huckbay behind the Patriot defense for a 47-yard touchdown with just over six minutes remaining in the first half.
That score drew the Bulldogs within 15-13, but Little took the following kickoff to the house from 80 yards away for a 21-13 advantage at 5:51.
West End’s ensuing onside kick attempt failed when Ashville covered the ball at midfield, however, and the hosts cashed in on that good field position when Malek Williams scored from 36 yards away to tie the game at 21-21 with 2:58 left in the second quarter.
The Patriots could not run out the first half clock on the next possession, and on Ashville’s second play from scrimmage Cornutt and Huckbay hooked up for another touchdown, this time for 60 yards with 12 seconds left in the half for a 28-21 lead.
Matters grew worse for the Patriots shortly after the start of the third quarter.
On the third play of the second half, Cornutt intercepted the ball in West End territory, a turnover that eventually led to Cornutt’s 20-yard touchdown run at 8:05. Huckbay’s extra point provided Ashville with a 35-21 cushion.
The Patriots responded in kind toward the end of the period, as Grant’s pick set up Malin’s touchdown five seconds into the fourth quarter that closed the gap to seven points.
But West End got no closer, ensuring for a long bus ride back to Walnut Grove.
Cornutt was 12 for 16 in passing for 205 yards. He also rushed 13 times for 62 yards. Huckbay had eight receptions for 118 yards.
King led the Bulldogs on the ground with 90 yards on 18 carries.
West End travels to Lamar County this Friday (Nov. 4) in the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs.
“The bottom line is that [Ashville] outplayed us,” said Davis. “They made the plays when they were supposed to and we didn’t make the plays in the same situations. We just weren’t good enough to win tonight. It’s disappointing to lose, but we’ve got another game and another opportunity to go out and get ready.”