‘Hawks Blank L-R, Host First-Round Playoff Battle

Westwood’s Christian Brown has been the workhorse for the Redhawks this season. Can he help carry them through the 3A playoff maze? (Photo/Ross Burton)

COLUMBIA – In a game postponed for 24 hours after Friday’s torrential downpour, the Westwood High School Redhawks wrapped up region play Saturday with a 21-0 shutout of the Lower Richland Diamond Hornets. The win gives head coach Rodney Summers’ program the second-place spot in 3A Region IV with a 4-1 region record (just behind Chapin, who finished 5-0) and catapults the ‘Hawks into the postseason in just their second year of existence. Westwood will host Woodruff Friday night in round one of the state playoffs, with kickoff at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s a great feeling to know we have a winning record in just our second year,” Summers said. “Just making the playoffs is a tremendous task after last year’s building season. We are not only in, but we are hosting and that is very special for our community and players.”

The ‘Hawks got things rolling Friday with a 1-yard touchdown carry by Christian Brown. The run capped a 10-play, 68-yard drive and Brandon Howard’s kick put Westwood up 7-0 with 7:45 remaining in the opening quarter. Brown would finish the night with 173 yards on the ground on 31 workhorse carries.

The early 7-0 lead would sustain the Redbirds through the first half, but late in the third, Brown would deliver once more. Taking over on the Lower Richland 41 with a little over 3 minutes left on the clock, the ‘Hawks used only four plays to set up shop at the Lower Richland 11. From there, Brown powered his way into the end zone with 1:21 to go in the third. Howard’s kick put Westwood up 14-0, and the Redhawk defense made it stand.

“Christian has embraced that position and he knows that we are going to count on him and the O-line to keep the offense producing,” Summers said. “They take pride in our ability to run the ball and hopefully we can keep it up. We do need to be able to throw the ball better if we want to keep teams off guard, so that is something we will be working on this week.”

It was the defense that put the final points on the board late in the contest. With just 12 seconds left in the game, Westwood’s Stephen Timmons stepped in front of a Heath Gilmore pass at the Lower Richland 37, plucked the ball out of the air and returned it for the score. Quinton Kleinert stood in to deliver the point after kick, sealing the fate of the Hornets, 21-0.

The Redhawks now make ready for their first postseason in school history, hosting the Wolverines Friday night. Woodruff finished third in Region II with a 3-2 region record (5-5 overall), behind Clinton and Region II champions Broome. It was an up-and-down year for the Wolverines, which opened 2013 with a 353-14 win over Abbeville, then dropped two straight, losing to Byrnes 82-49 and Chesnee 35-20. Woodruff then delivered a 48-28 beating to Laurens before finishing non-region play with a narrow 38-25 loss to Ninety-Six.

Woodruff then exploded into region play, rattling off three consecutive wins. They edged out Union 19-15, dumped Chester 21-6 and humiliated Chapman 58-28. That all came to an end on Oct. 25 as Woodruff suffered a tough road loss to Broome, 51-48, then closed out region play with a 42-34 home loss to Clinton.

“Their offense is explosive and can score a ton of points,” Summers said. “Our defense has a huge task this week of stopping them.”

The Wolverines averaged 36.7 points per game during the regular season, while giving up an average of 33.9 points per game. The Redhawks, meanwhile, are riding a four-game winning streak, with their last loss coming over a month ago when they fell to Chapin 29-21 on the road on Oct. 4. Westwood has averaged 25.1 points per game during the regular season while giving up just 17.2. Senior quarterback Chris Patterson, in nine games at the helm, has thrown for 825 yards and five TDs, going 54 of 129 in the air with nine interceptions. Sophomore Nick Leveretter has been solid as a backup, throwing for 227 yards, two TDs and two picks in seven games of work. But the ‘Hawks have made their hay on the ground, largely behind the strength of Brown. The Westwood senior compiled 1,335 yards and 15 touchdowns during the regular season, averaging 7.10 yards per carry on 188 touches. Patterson, his closest compatriot, has 464 yards on 101 carries with two TDs. The Redhawks receiving corps has been bookended by Vyncint Smith and Adonus Lee, each with 29 catches on the year. Smith has churned out 472 yards with three TDs and Lee has added 442 yards and five TDs.

“On defense (the Wolverines) get after it and tackle well,” Summers said. “They can cover your receivers and make it hard to throw, so it won’t be an easy task this week at all. We have to score points when we have the ball this week and definitely win the turnover battle. Special teams could play a huge role in this game.”

If the Redhawk defense can solve the Woodruff running scheme, their offense has the weapons to make Friday a long night for the Wolverines.

“We will throw in a wrinkle or two that I hope they are not prepared for,” Summers said.

Ross Burton contributed to this story.

WHS – 7-0-7-7 – 21

LR – 0-0-0-0 – 0

First Quarter

WHS – Christian Brown 1 run. Brandon Howard kick. (7:45)

Third Quarter

WHS – C. Brown 11 run. B. Howard kick. (1:21)

Fourth Quarter

WHS – Stephen Timmons 37 INT return. Quinton Kleinert kick. (0:12)

LR WHS

First Downs 8 17

Rushes/Yards 36-134 53-246

Passing Yards 34 56

C-A-I 7-20-2 6-13-1

Fumbles/Lost 0-0 1-0

Penalties/Yards 5-36 8-81

RUSHING: WHS – Christian Brown 31-173, Miquelle Canady 9-31, Chris Patterson 9-27, Nick Leveretter 4-15. LR – D’Andre Smith 16-97, Heath Gilmore 12-18, Maliek Williams 6-12, Donovan Hadley 2-7.

RECEIVING: WHS – Raekwon Geter 2-24, Vyncint Smith 1-15, Terrance Anderson 1-9, Miquelle Canady 1-4, Adonus Lee 1-4. LR – Jontrai Jackson 2-26, Reo Robinson 1-4, Larry Collins 3-2, D’Andre Smith 1-2.

PASSING: WHS – Chris Patterson 5-11, 44 yards, INT; Nick Leveretter 1-2, 12 yards. LR – Heath Gilmore 7-20, 34 yards, 2INTs.