Photo: Westbrook Christian’s Karmichael Cattling looks for running room during the Warriors’ 33-13 loss to Ranburne on Oct. 4 in Rainbow City. (Colin Edwards)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
After racing out to a 4-0 start this year, Westbrook Christian has hit a mid-season speed bump.
A week after suffering a 35-point loss to Class 2A, Region foe and third-ranked Ohatchee, the Warriors (4-2, 1-2) were dealt a 33-13 setback at the hands of region rival Ranburne last Friday (Oct. 4) in Rainbow City.
The hosts trailed only 14-7 at halftime but yielded 19 points and 235 yards over the final two quarters. Westbrook’s lone score of the second half was Asher Keck’s 95-yard touchdown run on the last play of the game.
The Bulldogs (6-0, 4-0) finished with 466 total yards, including 402 on the ground. The visitors had two players rush for over 100 yards – Christian Smith with 163 on 21 attempts and J R. Hollis with 127 on eight carries. Not counting Keck’s late run, the Warriors ended up with 20 second-half yards, including minus-6 in the third period.
“[Ranburne] has a good defense, and right we’re not very good on offense,” said Westbrook head coach Drew Noles. “Put those two things together and we don’t move the ball very well. We didn’t block, run the ball or throw the ball very well tonight.”
The Bulldogs took the lead for good on their third offensive series. Hollis took the ball at the Warrior 42-yard line and weaved his way through the Westbrook defense to the end zone. Smith ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-0 Ranburne advantage with just under three minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The hosts answered on the next possession with John Reese Bellew’s 25-yard touchdown at 10:35 of the second quarter that drew the Warriors within a point after Will Edwards’ PAT.
That was as close as Westbrook would get.
With four minutes and change remaining in the first half, Ranburne quarterback Jaxon Langley took it to the house from 73 yards out to put the Bulldogs ahead 14-7.
Westbrook made it to the Ranburne 28 in the half’s final minute, but a 43-yard field goal attempt came up short.
The third quarter was all Ranburne, as the visitors scored on three straight series to put the game away. A 50-yard run by Hollis set up Smith’s 1-yard TD run at 8:27, while Smith’s 15-yard touchdown at 3:24 made it 27-7. Sixteen seconds into the fourth frame, Smith and Tylor Cornwell teamed up for a 20-yard touchdown pass to stamp out any last hopes the Warrior faithful had for a homecoming win.
For Westbrook, Karmichael Catting rushed for 42 yards on 15 carries. Will Noles was 6 for 10 in passing for 72 yards. Joe Tucker had five receptions for 66 yards. Bryce Wood had seven tackles, followed by Bellew, Derrick Graham, Garrett Hall and Carl Henry with five each. Graham and Cade Phillips each had a sack.
While praising his squad’s effort, Drew Noles felt that Ranburne was by far the more physical team.
“We’ve got to get tougher, both physically and mentally. I thought we had the effort and enthusiasm tonight, but we didn’t execute, and you can’t do that against a good team like [Ranburne] and expect to win. Until we do that, we won’t win these kinds of games.”
Westbrook continues region play this Friday (Oct. 4) with a visit to Etowah County neighbor Gaston.