Griffins Hold of Late Westwood Rally

DeAndre Belton (3) fakes the handoff to Larry G. Bell and drops back to pass.

Westwood quarterback Chris Patterson is brought down by Fairfield’s Larry J. Bell.

BLYTHEWOOD – The Redhawks of Westwood High School had some high expectations coming into their 2013 season opener, hosting the Fairfield Central Griffins, the defending Class 2A upper state champs. But in spite of jumping out to an early 7-0 lead on the Griffins, the Redhawks could not find the combination to crack the Fairfield defense, falling at home 35-26.

“I’m disappointed in our running game,” Westwood head coach Rodney Summers said after the game. “I had high hopes for the running game. We’re making too many mistakes up front and in the backfield. One guy makes a mistake, then the other. We need to fix that.”

The Griffin defense held the ‘Hawks to 55 first-half rushing yards, and only three yards passing. Westwood took their first possession of the game at their own 41 following a Griffin punt and drove to the Fairfield 8-yard line before penalties and miscues brought them back to the Griffin 14. A potential touchdown pass from Chris Patterson to Vyncint Smith was negated by a holding penalty, pushing the ‘Hawks back to the Griffin 24 where they faced a third-and-goal. The threat was put to rest, however, when Fairfield’s Josh Bell picked Patterson off at the 4.

Westwood got on the board in spite of the early turnover when Fairfield quarterback DeAndre Belton and running back Joe Young mishandled the exchange in the end zone. Westwood defensive lineman Bradley Carter pounced on the loose ball and Brandon Howard’s point after put them up 7-0 with 4:42 left in the first.

“We do some much with the football, the risk is high every time we run a play,” Griffins’ head coach Demetrius Davis said. “The running back thinks the quarterback is keeping it, the quarterback thinks the running back is keeping it. Next thing you know, the ball’s on the ground.”

But the Griffins answered right back on their next possession, driving the ball from their own 44 behind the three-pronged rushing game of Belton, Young and Larry G. Bell. In a little over two minutes, the trio drove the Griffins to the Redhawk 15, and from there Belton carried it into the end zone. Compton Walker’s kick tied the game at 7 with 2:22 left in the period.

Late in the first, the Griffins began their go-ahead drive at their own 30. The drive carried over into the second quarter, culminating in a 7-yard touchdown run by Bell. Walker’s PAT put the Griffins up 14-7 with 10:17 to go in the half.

While both teams struggled with errors for much of the second quarter, a Westwood mistake late in the period proved costly. The Redhawk defense had stymied the Griffins’ rushing machine at the Fairfield 29, forcing a punt. Westwood’s Smith lost the handle on the return and Fairfield’s Devin Simmons recovered at the Redhawk 37. On second-and-10, Belton hit Shadarius Hopkins with an 18-yard pass to the Westwood 19. On the next snap, Belton found Kewaun Squirewell for a 19-yard touchdown strike. Walker then hit Javahnne Neal on the PAT to give the Griffins a 22-7 halftime lead.

“Obviously, we haven’t been able to move the ball,” Summers said at the break. “I’m frustrated with our offense. We need to figure a way to keep the offense on the field longer. The offense needs to start to step up and make some plays.”

But those frustrations would continue in the third quarter. The Redhawks took the opening second half kick at their 35, but fumbled the ball away three plays later. Walker’s recovery for the Griffins at the Westwood 44 set up another Fairfield scoring drive, one aided by a fake punt by Walker, who pulled down the long snap and scampered for 23 yards to keep the drive alive. Belton capped things off with an 18-yard scoring run and Walker’s kick upped the Griffins’ lead to 29-7.

Westwood put together a late rally, however, to make things interesting for the Griffins. After Fairfield rolled the dice and failed on a fourth-and-eight at the Westwood 38, the ‘Hawks took over, nudging the ball to the Fairfield 43 where Patterson hit Adonus Lee on the run. Lee streaked to the end zone for the score and Howard’s kick cut the lead to 29-14 as the third quarter expired.

The Griffins, however, showed that they could make the big play as well on their next possession. Facing a third-and-12 from their own 23, Belton hit Byron Sampson on the fly down the far sideline. Sampson, flanked by two Westwood defenders, cradled the ball and hit the accelerator, vanishing into thin air for a 77-yard touchdown. Surprisingly, it was the only offensive appearance of the game for Sampson, who played nearly the entire game in the defensive backfield.

“We put him in just to run that play,” Davis said. “That was a great call by coach (Ryan) Sharpe. All summer long, we’ve been throwing the bubble, so we thought we could fake the bubble and throw the deep pass.”

Walker’s extra point was of the mark, but the Griffins had answered, going up 35-14 with 10:22 to play in the game.

The Redhawks, meanwhile, continued to rally. Miquelle Canady returned the ensuing kick to the Fairfield 39, and a penalty pushed them even further into Griffin territory, to the 28. A pass interference call against the Griffins set the ‘Hawks up at the 10, and from there Christian Brown hammered it home. The 2-point conversion attempt by the ‘Hawks was no good, but the Griffin lead was down to 35-20 with 9:21 to play.

With just over six minutes to play, the ‘Hawks were pinned deep in their own territory. A 29-yard pass from Patterson to Smith gave them some breathing room out to the 31, but Patterson’s next pass was picked off by Hopkins at the Griffin 30 with 5:11 remaining.

“Hopkins made probably the biggest interception I’ve ever seen,” Davis said. “(Patterson) is athletic, but we’re athletic, too. That offsets a lot of stuff. He can run, but we can run. We were able to make some plays and have him kind of running sideways. We were able to make him play left-handed, pretty much.”

Westwood’s last hurrah came with 1:01 left on the clock when Brown’s 5-yard run capped a 71-yard, 1:36 drive. The PAT was again foiled, making the final score 35-26, Griffins.

“The theme for this year is ‘Finish,’ and we didn’t finish,” Davis said. “We got up and I think we relaxed. We’ve got to get out of that. This game was this far away from being in overtime. We’re not very good right now. We’ve got to get better.”

The Griffins now get ready to host Abbeville this Friday, while Westwood travels to Richland Northeast on Thursday.

 

FCHS                      WHS

First downs                           11                              12

Rushes/yard                    43-181                     29-105

Passing yards                      197                           102

C-A-Int-TD                  11-16-0 2TD                 7-21-2 1TD

Fumbles/lost                    3-2                               3-2

Penalties/yards               9-91                             8-60

Individual Stats

RUSHING: FC – D. Belton 13-68, J. Young 12-38, L.G. Bell 14-48, J. Neal 3-4, C. Walker 1-23. WHS – C. Patterson 10-32, C. Brown 12-58, K. Smith 7-15.

PASSING: FC – D. Belton: 10-15-0-2; C. Walker: 1-1-0. WHS-Patterson: 7-21-2.

RECEIVING: FC – K. Squirewell 5-76, J. Young 1-2, T. White 1-19, S. Hopkins 1-18, B. Sampson 1-77, J. Neal 1-2, T. Cook 1-3. WHS – V. Smith 1-29, A. Lee 3-51, T. Anderson 1-3, C. Brown 1-(-)2, R. Geter 1-21.

Scoring

First Quarter

WHS – Bradley Carter 0-fumble recovery. Brandon Howard kick. (4:42)

FC – DeAndre Belton 15-run. Compton Walker kick. (2:22)

Second Quarter

FC – Larry G. Bell 7-run. C. Walker kick. (10:17)

FC – Kewaun Squirewell 19-pass from D. Belton. Javahnne Neal 2-pass from C. Walker. (0:10)

Third Quarter

FC – D. Belton 18-run. C. Walker kick. (8:38)

WHS – Adonus Lee 43 pass from Christ Patterson. B. Howard kick. (0:00)

Fourth Quarter

FC – Byron Sampson 77-pass from D. Belton. Kick failed. (10:22)

WHS – Christian Brown 10-run. PAT failed. (9:21)

WHS – C. Brown 5-run. Kick failed. (1:01)