Lancaster takes down Westwood

LANCASTER – Nothing like getting your kicks on homecoming night, even when it’s late, but sends the home crowd home happy.

Lancaster High senior kicker Jacob Cato, in his final regular-season home game, drilled three field goals, his last from 25 yards out with 28.8 seconds, to lift the Bruins to an exciting 23-20 comeback win over stubborn Westwood High School on Friday night at Memorial Stadium.

The Bruins, with a key sequence, were able to work Cato in for his game-winning kick.

Westwood, which rallied from a 17-0 deficit in the second half to take a 20-17 lead, was on the move for possible decisive points, but a crucial Buddy Howard interception and 10-yard return put the Bruins in motion to drive in for the winning kick.

A third-and-15 pass interference penalty kept the LHS drive alive to the WHS 42.

From there, LHS senior quarterback Kemarkio Cloud, making key plays with his arm and legs, moved the Bruins into position for Cato’s kick.

Cloud, who ran for 175 yards in 21 carries, netted nine yards on a pair of carries and whipped a eight-yard pass to Zach Truesdale and a 10-yarder to WyQuan Massey to the WHS 15.

“I’m glad this is the last time I have to face No. 8 (Cloud),” Westwood coach Dustin Curtis said. “He’s a competitor, a real tough kid.”

Ason’ta Clark had a three-yard run and Cloud added a four-yard run to the Redhawks’ eight. Another Cloud carry didn’t net yards, but got the ball in the middle of the field.

Cato, who said he was a little nervous, then stepped up and drilled the game-winning kick with 28.8 seconds left.

“Coach Collins said it was just another kick,” Cato said. “Kendric (LHS holder Watts) handled the snap, and I hit it on the right spot and I was just hoping to see it on target.

“When I saw it, it was an amazing feeling,” he said. “I loved every second.”

TJ Blanding (2) looks to evade the oncoming Lancaster tackler. | Ernie Rowell

It was even better after the LHS defense, bending, but not breaking, held off Westwood at the end to seal the win.

Lancaster, after a scoreless first period, was able to make some headway for points.

The Bruins struck in a big way, with Cloud, who threw for 189 yards on 12-21 passing, hitting Truesdale on an 82-yard pass to give LHS a 7-0 lead after Cato converted with 5:30 in the second period.

Truesdale, for the night, had two catches for 90 yards.

LHS, after holding Westwood on a fourth-and-one at the WHS 36, moved in to add points before the half. Christian Woodard had a 13-yard catch and Phillip Mickles, who had four receptions for 29 yards, snagged a six-yard catch at the WHS 10.

Lancaster lost four yards in two rushing plays and a penalty pushed them back to the Hawks’ 19.

Cloud then scrambled for 13 to the WHS six and Cato came on to drill a 24-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead.

LHS, on its first possession of the second half, extended its lead with an 85-yard scoring drive in six plays. Cloud was the catalyst with a 72-yard run to the WHS five.

Three snaps later, Clark barreled into the end zone from a yard out for a seemingly safe 17-0 lead with 5:03 in the third period after Cato’s kick.

The Redhawks, unfazed, battled back.

Westwood went 80 yards in five plays, with junior quarterback Ahmon Green hitting Daquan Wise on a 10-yard touchdown pass.

The Redhawks’ points probe was powered by running back Deshawn Boyd’s 68-yard run to the LHS five. A five-yard loss on first-and-goal resulted in Green’s 10-yard scoring pass to Wise.

Boyd ran for 118 yards on 11 carries for the night.

On the conversion, WHS went for two, but LHS defensive back Nehemiah Bailey picked off Green’s pass with 3:23 in the third period.

Westwood continued its charge, taking advantage of a short punt at the LHS 33.

Cortes Braham, who had seven catches for 124 yards, set up the Hawks’ touchdown with a 19-yard catch to the Bruins’ one.

A snap later Green powered in to slice the Bruins lead to five, 17-12 with 1:08 in the third period.

The Redhawks, halting the Bruins on downs at the WHS 35, went back to work in hopes of taking their first lead.

They kept plugging, with Green hitting Braham on an 11-yard scoring pass. Green then hit Braham on the two-point conversion to give the Hawks a 20-17 lead.

“Our kids fought like crazy,” Curtis said.

Lancaster fought back and drove inside the 10 behind the running and passing of Cloud.

The Bruins’ drive stalled at the WHS three, and Cato came in to nail the 20-yard field goal with 4:45 to play.

The Redhawks, on their next possession, were on the move, but Howard came up with the clutch interception and the Bruins drove in for Cato’s winning kick.

“Kemarkio’s had a big season and he continues to come up big for us, but at the same time, it was all about our guys contributing and making clutch plays against a quality team,” LHS head coach Bobby Collins said. “Both teams played hard, and it was really good to see our guys win to extend our season, especially after two tough losses.

The Redhawks face Richland Northeast at home on Friday.

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