Hawks Rally Past RNE

Rudy Mitchell drives against the RNE defense. (Photo/Ross Burton)

Rudy Mitchell drives against the RNE defense. (Photo/Ross Burton)

COLUMBIA – Westwood High travelled to Parone Stadium in Columbia Friday to take on the Cavaliers of Richland Northeast High School. After a halftime deficit of 14 points, the Redhawks were red hot in the second half, defeating the Cavaliers by a final score of 30-20.

The annual Richland Northeast game is a rivalry of sorts between the two schools as many of the Redhawk coaching staff also coached at RNE before the creation of Westwood. Included among the former Cavalier coaches are the Westwood athletic director, head football coach, offensive and defensive coordinators and several others.

The Redhawks began the game looking flat and without their usual confidence. On their first drives, both teams had to punt. Westwood had a 15-yard personal foul penalty and a quarterback sack, keeping them from the first down. RNE managed a long drive down to the Westwood 14-yard line. They went for it on fourth-and-8, but could not make first down yardage and had to turn the ball over on downs.

The first half difficulties for the Redhawks began in earnest when a pass by Jalen Smith was intercepted by Terrick Hunter who turned it into a pick-6 to draw first blood for the Cavaliers.

The following Westwood drive went nowhere. Northeast took six minutes off the clock by grinding their way toward the goal line with time consuming running plays and mixing things up with a pass or two.

It looked like the RNE drive would fizzle on the Westwood 17-yard line with the Cavaliers facing fourth down and 11 yards to go. Then RNE’s Aloysius Jackson fired a rare pass to Marzell Jackson, good for 14 yards and first-and-goal. T.J. Brunson took the ball across the goal line after two short runs. Without a good place kicker, RNE made the 2-point conversion to lead the Redhawks 14-0.

Late in the second quarter, the Redhawks couldn’t mount any real offense. With 3:21 to go in the half, Westwood fumbled, and Richland Northeast recovered. Fortunately for the Hawks, RNE suffered four offensive penalties, keeping them from scoring during their final drive before halftime.

“We have to regroup,” Westwood head coach Rodney Summers said at the break. “We didn’t execute on offense at all. We will talk it out, get our heads right and persevere.”

Whatever was said in the locker room at halftime, it was the right thing, as a different Westwood took the field, attitude and confidence-wise, in the third quarter.

Westwood, since inception, has been a self-confessed running team. However, it was the passing game that saved the day for the Redhawks. The big revelation of the second half was speedster Montre Miller, who proved his quickness during last year’s track and field season.

Westwood’s second possession of the second half only lasted three plays. After a short keeper by Jalen Smith, the quarterback then made two great throws. The first to Jaylen Robinson for 18 yards, and the second a bomb to Miller who took the ball 40 yards for the touchdown. The Cavaliers came right back when Davis broke loose and carried the ball 62 yards across the goal line.

With a few minutes to go in the quarter, Smith again connected with Miller for some good yardage. Smith and running back Rudy Mitchell teamed up to finish off the drive with a second Westwood touchdown, drawing the Redhawks to within a touchdown of the lead.

The final quarter was the Jalen Smith/Montre Miller show. Forty-nine seconds into the last quarter, Smith hit Miller for a 53-yard touchdown pass, tying the game at 20 points apiece. Brandon Howard missed the extra point to maintain the tie.

“Somebody had to make a play,” Summers said, “and Montre made three!”

Richland Northeast went four and out on the following possession, giving Smith and Miller another shot at a score.

It came at 5:32 to go in the game when Miller caught a pass and took the ball 53 yards down field to give Westwood it’s first lead of the ball game, 27-20.

With the game still within a touchdown, and the ball in the hands of the Cavaliers, all Westwood needed to put the game away was a turnover. It came moments later when Richard Hill recovered a Cavalier fumble on the RNE 45.

Rudy Mitchell carried the ball for short yardage on each of the next nine plays. With Fourth down and goal on the RNE 9-yard line, it appeared that the Redhawks would go for it on fourth down. They took a timeout to think things over and sent Howard out to kick a field goal.

Howard missed, but RNE was penalized for running into the kicker, moving the line of scrimmage 5 yards closer and an automatic first down to boot. Howard was good on his second try, and with 22 seconds left, RNE had no chance.

On Friday, Clover High travels to Richland 2 Stadium to try to avenge last year’s close loss to the Redhawks.

 

WHS: 0-0-14-16 – 30

RNE: 6-8-6-0 – 20

 

Scoring

First Quarter

RNE – Hunter 22 INT return. PAT failed. (1:22)

Second Quarter

RNE – Brunson 2 run. Davis run. (6:39)

Third Quarter

WHS – Montre Miller 20 pass from Jalen Smith. Brandon Howard kick. (5:15)

RNE – Davis 62 run. PAT failed. (4:24)

WHS – J. Smith 1 run. B. Howard kick. (2:17)

Fourth Quarter

WHS – M. Miller 53 pass from J. Smith. Kick failed. (11:11)

WHS – M. Miller 42 pass from J. Smith. B. Howard kick. (5:32)

WHS – B. Howard 24 FG. (0:22)

 

WHS                RNE

First Downs                           18                    12

Rush-yds                                109                 220

Comp-Att-Int                          14-19-1          6-11-0

Pass Yds                                 267                 49

Fumbles-lost                          1-1                  1-1

Penalties-yds                         8-70                13-95

 

RUSHING: WHS-Mitchell 17-79, Smith 11-28, Miller 1-2. RNE- Davis 11-121, Jackson, A 12-46, Moorer 9-45, Brunson 3-8

PASSING: WHS-Smith 14-19-1, 267 yds. RNE-Jackson, A 6-11-0, 49 yds.

RECEIVING: WHS-Miller 5-165, Robinson 4-59, Griffin 3-25, Temple 1-16, Gallman 1-2. RNE- Jackson, M 2-32, Davis 3-10, Anderson 1-7.

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