Westbrook outlasts Section 38-28
Fri. October 18, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. | By J.J. Hicks Staff Writer
Section’s William Burrow gets off an incomplete pass after a botched punt attempt led by Westbrook Christian’s Chris Underwood (4), William Martin (6) and Johnathan Barnard (50) during the game in Rainbow City. (Photo by Eric T. Wright | Gadsden Times)
RAINBOW CITY — Westbrook Christian coach Tony Osborne knew it would be a dogfight, but he couldn’t have been happier with the end result.
The Warriors outlasted Section 38-28 to pick up a big Class 2A, Region 7 victory Friday.
Westbrook (5-3, 4-2) raced out to a 24-21 lead after a pair of action-packed quarters, then held on late with a few big defensive plays.
“It was back-and-forth and either team could have been a little discouraged and laid down, but neither one did,” Osborne said of the homecoming win. “We knew we had two quality teams playing with a lot of heart. We made mistakes but did just enough to win the game.”
The Lions actually outgained the Warriors 346 yards to 296 yards, but Osborne felt his team played one of its best, most efficient games of the year when handling the football.
“Offensively I thought we really played well,” he said. “In the second half I thought we had some mental lapses and let our foot off the throttle a little bit, but it was one of the better games offensively we’ve played.”
After the first two quarters, Westbrook held a 3-point edge and had gained 203 yards. It got the opening kickoff the second half and marched 65 yards in eight plays to extend its lead. Wil Appleton hit Noah Hunt, who made a one-handed grab, on a 21-yard touchdown pass, and Chris Underwood’s extra point made it 31-21 with 9:30 left in the third.
Appleton completed 15 of 31 throws for 252 yards and four touchdowns for the Warriors.
The Warriors stopped a Lions’ drive when Tyler Lowery fell on a fumble at the Westbrook 29 late in the third quarter.
Section finally got on the board in the second half on a 2-yard scoring plunge by Chris Manning with 6:16 left in the game to cut it to 31-28.
Manning, who has put up multiple 200-yard rushing efforts this year, finished the game with 99 yards rushing and three scores on 21 carries, two catches for 31 yards and a touchdown pass.
“He’s a really good athlete and nobody has really stopped him,” Osborne said. “We tried to prevent the big play and we did that for the most part. We wanted to make them earn their yards.”
The Westbrook defense made its biggest play of the night late in the game. After the Lions took over on their 13 with 3:45 left, they completed a first-down pass but on the next play, William Martin stepped in front of a Trenton Linderman pass for an interception and returned it to the Section 10. Three plays later, Appleton found Hunt again, this time from 6 yards out, to seal the win with 1:23 to go.
Section took the game’s opening kickoff 61 yards in seven plays, capped with Manning’s first 2-yard touchdown dive to go up 7-0. The Warriors quickly countered, as on the third play of the ensuing drive, Appleton and Hunt hooked up for their first scoring pass of the night, this one from 78 yards out, to tie the game with 7:41 left in the first.
Manning struck again on the next possession, scoring on a 3-yard run to give the Lions a 14-7 edge.
Westbrook got a break late in the first, when a botched punt gave it the ball at the Section 30.
Two plays later, Dalvin Lewis tied it up with an 11-yard run with 1:09 remaining in the quarter. Lewis rushed for 54 yards on eight carries to lead Westbrook.
Appleton connected with Underwood on a 14-yard touchdown toss with 9:26 to go in the second to put the Warriors on top 21-14. They did not trail again.
Underwood added a 35-yard field goal late in the second quarter, only to be countered by a Manning 42-yard touchdown pass to Noah Crawford with 1:56 left in the first half.
Hunt had five catches for 140 yards for Westbrook, which travels to North Sand Mountain on Friday to complete region play.