Patriots end skid with thumping of Coosa Christian

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By Chris McCarthy/Editor

West End’s 15-game losing streak cam to a screeching halt on Friday in Gadsden, as the Patriots administered a 59-30 thrashing to Coosa Christian. 

The final score was not indicative of West End’s dominance. The Patriots built a 45-14 lead by the opening minute of the fourth quarter before the West End starters headed for the sidelines.

The Conquerors (1-4, 1-2) then notched 16 points against the West End substitutes.

The Patriots (1-4, 0-3) finished with 407 total yards, including 302 on the ground. Coosa had 295 total yards but only 74 came via the rush. 

Turnovers were the key to the Walnut Grove squad’s first victory since a 28-12 win over Gaston in Week 9 of the 2012 season. The Patriots turned three Conqueror interceptions in the first half into 18 points and a 31-14 advantage at intermission.

The final score would have been more lopsided if not the play of Coosa senior quarterback Johnny Grizzard, who completed 13-of-37 passes for 218 yards and two scores while adding another 72 yards and a touchdown on the ground. 

But the Patriots picked off Grizzard five times and had three sacks to offset his solid production.

 “We knew that the Grizzard kid was going to throw the football,” said West End head coach Kyle Davis. “He was a human highlight reel last week [against Woodville] and he was again this week. He makes a lot of great plays, and you just try to take the football out of his hands much as possible. I felt like if we could make it a one-dimensional game and make them just throw the ball, we’d have a pretty good shot at winning.” 

Hunter Grant had a standout game on both sides of the ball for the Patriots. He was 7 for 15 in passing for 125 yards and two touchdowns, rushed 10 times for 120 yards and two scores and picked off a pair of passes, returning one for a touchdown.

Jordan Malin rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown on nine carries, while Rhett Lister caught three passes for 63 yards.

West End got on the scoreboard on the first play from scrimmage when Grant and  Lister hooked up for a 47-yard touchdown pass at 9:51 of the first quarter. 

Coosa Christian tied the game at 7-7 on its opening series with Randy Washington’s 1-yard touchdown run at 6:57.

The Patriots regained the lead late in the first quarter when Grant returned an interception 40 yards for the score at 2:13.

But the hosts answered with Grizzard’s 42-yard touchdown pass to his brother Wesley at the 3:39 mark of the second period.

Forty-three seconds later, however, Grant’s 8-yard keeper on first and goal provided the visitors with the lead for good.

Dillon Gregory’s interception on the following Conqueror series led to Grant’s 16-yard TD pass to Gregory, making it 28-14 in favor of West End with 1:10 remaining before halftime.

Another pick resulted in a 17-point halftime lead. Grant’s interception with 45 seconds left gave West End the ball deep inside Coosa territory, and the possession was capped by Payne Stancil’s 28-yard field goal with 8.5 seconds left. 

On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Rhett Lister intercepted the ball. West End was forced to punt, but a 10-play, 69-yard series later in the third period ended with Malin’s 7-yard touchdown run and a 38-14 lead at 5:29.

Grant scored again from 20 yards out in the quarter’s final seconds to make it 45-14.

Grizzard’s 6-yard touchdown pass to his brother Wesley 49 seconds into the fourth quarter cut the Patriot lead to 45-22, but Andre Little provided some window dressing with a pair of late touchdown runs, one for 53 yards and another for 14. Grizzard closed out the Coosa scoring with a 35-yard touchdown run with a little over two minutes left.

Wesley Grizzard finished with nine catches for 205 yards. Defensively for the Conquerors, David Kim and Emory Kitchens each had eight tackles. 

“We’ve really been Jekyll and Hyde all year,” said Davis. “But we had a really good week of practice with a lot of enthusiasm,  and I think it showed tonight. This was the total team effort that we were looking for all year long. These kids really deserve this, because they’ve kept their heads up and worked really hard.”

West End resumes Class 2A, Region 7 play next week against Ider in the Patriots’ homecoming game. The Conquerors travel to Decatur Heritage for another non-region contest.

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