Westbrook Christian could not overcome an early double-digit deficit at Collinsville on Nov. 9, falling to the Panthers by a score of 35-21 in the first round of the Class 2A state football playoffs.
The Warriors (7-4) found themselves trailing two plays into the game when a 61-yard Kaleb Jones-to-Mason McKinney touchdown pass made it 7-0 in favor of the hosts.
Collinsville recovered a fumble at the Warrior 30 on the ensuing kickoff, and runs of 20 and 10 yards by McKinney put the Panthers ahead 14-0 less than two minutes into the contest.
The Westbrook offense struggled with punts on its first three offensive possessions, and Collinsville made it 21-0 on McKinney’s 1-yard touchdown run at 10:04 of the second quarter.
The Warriors finally got on the scoreboard on Hunter Grimes 3-yard touchdown run and Keele Coates’ PAT at the 6:51 mark, but the hosts answered with a 7-yard touchdown run by Jones provided Collinsville (10-1) with a 28-7 lead.
Westbrook had an opportunity to cut into the lead on the following series but the drive ended when the Warriors fumble the ball away inside the Panther 10. Collinsville was soon forced to punt, however, and a 10-play possession by the Warriors ended with Cox’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Scott. Coates’ extra point pulled the visitors within 28-14 at halftime.
Following a scoreless third quarter, Westbrook drew within seven points when Cox and P.J. Wells hooked up for a 61-yard touchdown to trim the deficit to seven points.
The Warriors’ good fortune continued when Westbrook recovered a fumble on the next Panther series. But the drive stalled out at the Collinsville 43, and a pair of personal foul penalties against the Warriors helped extend the following Panther series, which ended with McKinney’s 9-yard TD run.
Westbrook got the ball back with just under two minutes remaining, but the game clock ran out with the Warriors at their own 37.
“We basically got into a hole that we couldn’t dig out of,” said Westbrook head coach Brian Mintz. “We settled down after the first half and for the most part played pretty well. It’s hard to come back against a good team like (Collinsville) in the playoffs. (Jones) is a good athlete, and he made some big plays.”
Grimes finished with 49 yards rushing, followed by John Ross Morgan with 46. Wells caught eight passes for 142 yards.
Jai’shawn Cattling had 10 tackles, followed by David Barnett with five.
Mintz said that his 15-member senior class would be missed.
“They were good leaders for us, and they did everything we asked them to do. Hopefully we’ll have some other kids step up nest year and fill their shoes.”
Eddie Edwards contributed to this article