Photo: West End’s Eli Pearce catches pass in front of Westbrook Christian’s Jai’Shawn Cattling during the Warriors’ 62-35 victory in high school football on Set. 14 in Walnut Grove. (Sherry Abercrombie)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
In a shootout of O.K Corral proportions, West End and Westbrook Christian combined for 97 points and 1,037 yards on Friday in Walnut Grove, with the visiting Warriors emerging with a 62-35 victory in Class 2A, Region 6 action.
The teams traded shots for much of the first half, with Westbrook (3-1, 1-0) taking a 14-7 lead after one quarter and 35-21 at halftime due in large part to 162 rushing yards and two touchdowns by Hunter Grimes.
The Warriors finished with 541 total yards, while the Patriots rolled up 475, all through the air.
“We came out and played physical, and that was what we wanted to do,” said Westbrook head coach Brian Mintz. “You’ve got to be able to run the football to win. That’s the bottom line, and I think we showed tonight that we’re capable of doing that.”
Grimes, who finished with 311 yards and five touchdowns, scored from four yards out on the opening drive of the second half to make it 39-21.
It looked as if the Patriots (0-4, 0-2) would keep pace when Jacob Camacho ran back the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, but the play was nullified by a block in the back penalty and the hosts went three-and-out on the ensuing possession. Grimes then scored on a 39-yard touchdown run up the middle at the 5:50 mark of the third quarter.
West End fumbled the ball on the next play from scrimmage, and Westbrook’s Jonathan Hall recovered the ball at the Patriot 24. The patriots held on fourth down, but the hosts went three-and-out on their next series and never again got within striking distance.
The Patriots got the ball back with just over two minutes left in the third, and following a 17-yard scramble by Jones, West End did not run another running play the remainder of the game. An 11-play, 51-yard drive by the Patriots fizzled out on a failed fourth down conversion attempt early in the fourth quarter, on the next play, John Ross Morgan scored from 77 yards out to make it 55-21.
West End narrowed the gap with a pair of touchdowns 10 seconds apart midway through the fourth period. The first came on Roberson turned a short pass from Jones into a 90-yard score at 6:40. The second came after the Patriots recovered a fumble on the following kickoff and Jones and Roberson connected for a 3-yard scoring pass at 6:50.
Any hopes of a late rally from West End were extinguished when Grimes scored on a 32-yard run to provide the visitors with a 27-point advantage with 5:09 left in the game.
“We kind of went into a lull in the fourth quarter and lost our focus, and that’s something we have to work on, because you’ve got to be able to play four quarters,” said Mintz.
Jones was 19 for 40 in passing for 475 yards and four touchdowns. Eli Pearce caught eight passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns, while Roberson had three receptions for 110 yards and two scores.
Also for Westbrook, Morgan rushed five times for 89 yards, while Karmichael Cattling gained 53 yards on seven carries. Jackson Cox completed 5 of 7 passes for 162 yards.
Jai’Shawn Cattling had nine tackles, followed by Will Lankford with five, Jackson Luttrell with four and J.R. Bellew, Will Vice and David Barnett with three each.
“Offensively, we tried to match (Westbrook) score for score, but you can’t do that the whole game; eventually, you’ve got to make some stops,” said West End head coach Kyle Davis. “In terms of personnel defensively, we think we have the right guys in the right situations, but we’re just not making plays. But our players and coaches are working their tails off, and I think we’ll get there.”
Westbrook took the lead for good on its first possession of the game, a 75-yard series that featured 52 rushing yards by Grimes, the last 10 yards coming on a touchdown run. Keele Coates kicked the first of his seven extra points on the evening for a 7-0 lead.
Westbrook went ahead by 14 points courtesy of Cox’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Morgan with 1:30 left in the opening frame.
West End cut its deficit in half four plays later on Jones’ 30-yard touchdown pass to Jackson Tidmore and Mason Barnett’s PAT in the closing second of the quarter.
The Warriors responded with Grimes’ 1-yard TD run at 8:28 of the second period, which in turn was answered by Jones’ 7-yard touchdown pass to Pearce at 6:19.
Westbrook went up 28-13 via Cox’s 28-yard scoring strike to Brandon Foster, but the Pats kept pace three plays later with Jones’ 31-yard touchdown pass to Pearce.
But 30 rushing yards by Grimes and a 40-yard Cox-to-Foster pass set up the Warriors at the West End 1, where Morgan took it in for a 35-21 lead with 11 seconds to go before halftime.
“Obviously, it’s very disappointing, but we just have to keep fighting and not give up,” said Davis. “I just hope we don’t run out of time before we get to the point where we’re playing our best football.”
Westbrook faces No. 4 Ohatchee in a region game this Friday (Sept. 21), while West End hosts Ragland in non-region action.