Redhawks ‘battle test’ Griffins

BLYTHEWOOD – Westwood has rolled through the front stretch of their schedule without a blemish on their record and added another win to the column Friday night against the Fairfield Central Griffins. Despite giving up a season high point total, the Redhawks scored off of two Griffin turnover, and were able to pull off a sizable 48-20 win. The Redhawks improved to 4-0 and the Griffins fell to 1-5.

Deshawn Boyd (10) follows his blockers up the field. | Leroy Howard

“Secondary wise, I think they’re one of the better ones we’ve played,” Griffins’ head coach Demetrius Davis said. “Between them and John’s Creek, those were probably the two best defenses that we faced all year.”

The Fairfield match-up marked Westwood’s first game since their Aug. 31 showdown with Lower-Richland. They had an open week on Sept.7, and inclement weather delayed their game with South Aiken.

“It was really three weeks to the day since they had played a game,” Redhawks’ head coach Dustin Curtis said. “The scariest part wasn’t the memory, just the physicality, they just hadn’t been involved in that in so long. We don’t normally go full pads in practice but we ran full pads on Tuesday just to get the guys back engaged. I thought they handled it well.”

The quick-strike Griffins’ offense caught the Redhawks defense off guard early, and their first drive ended with a long touchdown pass. Freshman quarterback Stephon Gadsden dialed up CJ Simmons for the 59-yard touchdown. That turned out to be the Griffins’ only lead of the game.

It did not take long for the Redhawks to answer back, and they kept the offense rolling for the duration of the first half. Less than a minute after the Griffins’ score, Ahmon Green found Christian Horn weaving through traffic for a 19-yard touchdown.

Later in the first quarter, the Griffins’ botched a punt from their own end-zone, which allowed Westwood to set-up shop at the Fairfield 15-yard line. Two plays later, Deshawn Boyd rushed for the 15-yard score.

Fairfield’s next drive ended with another special teams’ mishap. They attempted another punt from deep in their own territory, and this time the punt was blocked. The Griffins recovered in their end-zone but Cam Atkins pushed the punter out of the back of the end-zone to force a safety.

“You’re playing one of the better 4A teams in the state, and in order to be able to compete with those guys you’ve got to be able to limit your mistakes,” Davis said. “We made some mistakes and they were able to capitalize on them. Those short punts at the end of the day are just as bad as turnovers.”

The Griffins’ safety kick-off left Westwood at the Fairfield 45-yard line, and it took them just two plays to strike again. Ahmon Green got his second touchdown pass of the night when he found Cortes Braham for a 31-yard touchdown. Westwood led 23-7 after a quarter.

Early in the second, a Redhawks’ un-sportsman like conduct penalty opened the door for Stephon Gadsden to scramble out for a 22-yard score. The score cut the lead down to nine. Gadsden accounted for all three Fairfield touchdowns.

“Honestly their freshman quarterback is going to be special,” Curtis said. “He’s very athletic, he’s very well built already and I know that Coach Davis is going through some growing pains with him because he is so young but that’s a great coach and great program, and they got a really good one to look forward to,”

Justice Boyd tries to escape the pressure applied by Westwood’s Ronald Coates.

Gadsden’s score did not derail the Redhawks’ offensive pace. They marched 68 yards in just three minutes, and Jalen Briggman finished it off with a three-yard touchdown run. The Griffins coughed up the ball on their next drive, and Cam Atkins scooped up the loose ball. Atkins returned the fumble 66 yards for a touchdown.

Less than a minute later the Redhawks took another turnover back to the house. Reggie Harry made a quick read on a short Gadsden pass, picked the ball off and had a clear 22-yard path to the end-zone.

The 18-point swing gave the Redhawks a comfortable 41-7 lead at halftime. Nicolas Gilliam delivered final blow midway through the third quarter via a 50-yard dash to the end-zone. Early the fourth quarter, Gadsden hit-up JR Edmonds on a 15-yard touchdown, but could not mount any further offense.

Fairfield begins region play Friday. They host the Keenan Raiders.

“For the rest of the season we’re going to play some good teams,” Davis said. “Our region teams are good but we’re not going to play another Blythewood or John’s Creek or Westwood for the rest of year. I would much rather us be battle tested than to be walking around saying we’re 5-0 and we’re not battle tested.”
The Redhawks also begin region play Friday, but they will be on road. They will travel to Rock Hill to take on the Perennial Powerhouse that is South Pointe.

“They’re still the champions until proven otherwise,” Curtis said. “South Pointe has some really good football players right now and they still believe they’re going to win every game so we’re excited for the opportunity. We really like our team, and we’re going up there believing we’re going to have a competitive football game.”

Scoring

WHS– 23-18-7-0-48

FCHS– 7-7-0-6-20

First Quarter

FCHS-CJ Simmons 59 pass from Stephon Gadsden. (Edwin Aguilera kick).

WHS– Christian Horn 19 pass from Ahmon Green (David Strother III kick). 10:22.

WHS– Deshawn Boyd 15 run ( D.Strother III kick).4:44.

WHS– Safety.3:16.

WHS– Cortes Braham 31 pass from A.Green (D. Strother III kick).2:12.

Second Quarter

FCHS-S.Gadsden 22 run (E.Aguilera kick).11:51.

WHS– Jalen Briggman 2 run (D.Strother III kick no good). 8:35.

WHS– Cam Atkins 66 fumble return (D.Strother III kick good). 5:20.

WHS– Reggie Harry 22 interception return (D.Strother III kick no good).4:09.

Third Quarter

WHS– Nicolas Gilliam 50 run (D.Strother III kick).9:36.

Fourth Quarter

FCHS-JR Edmonds 15 pass from Stephon Gadsden. (Edwin Aguilera kick no good).7:35.

Team Stats           FCHS                        WHS

Rushes/Yards             24-114                  19-135

Passing Yards             97                         165

C-A-I-TD                      7-14-1-2             8-14-1-2

Fumbles/ Lost             1/1                      1/0

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Rushing:  WHS- Nicolas Gilliam 4-61, Deshawn Boyd 4-28, Ahmon Green 5-27, Cam Atkins 1-16, Jalen Briggman 2-3, Kyrie Jamison 3-0..FCHS-  Chris Suber 18-60,Stephon Gadsden 5-42, Devin Johnson 8-12, CJ Simmons 1-1, Justice Boyd 2-(-1).

Receiving:  WHS- Christian Horn 4-66, Cortes Braham 2-65, Daquan Wise 2-42, Cam Atkins 2-29. FCHS- CJ Simmons 2-63, JR Edmonds 3-25, Justice Boyd 1-9.

Passing: WHS- Ahmon Green 8-13, 165 yards, two touchdowns, one interception; Cam Atkins 0-1. FCHS- Stephon Gadsen 7-14, 97 yards, two touchdowns, one interception.

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