Westwood wins third straight

AIKEN – The punt was fake but the impact wasn’t.

Holding a slim 8-7 lead midway through the second quarter, Westwood’s drive had stalled. Facing 4th and 12 on the South Aiken 48-yard-line yard line, the Westwood punt crew jogged onto the field.

The snap spiraled into the arms of Rashad McCain. But instead of kicking, he dropped back and floated a pass over the charging South Aiken defenders.

McCain’s throw was perfect, landing in the arms of Reggie Harry, who scampered 35 yards to the South Aiken 13-yard-line. Harry would’ve scored had his left foot not stepped out of bounds.

Ahmon Green (6) picked up 341 yards of offense, 50 of which came on the ground. | Michael Smith

Still, the trick play accomplished its goal.

Instead of giving the ball away, Westwood was suddenly in the red zone with a fresh set of downs. Julian Milligan completes the drive with a 13-yard scamper to put the Redhawks ahead 16-7 after the conversion.

“It was a huge play for us,” Westwood coach Matt Quinn said. “Our special teams coordinator did a great job on that call. He saw an opening on film and it was just a beautiful call.”

While the play came relatively early in the game, and South Aiken mounted several charges later in the night, the fake punt proved especially advantageous for the Redhawks at that point in the contest.

On its ensuing possession, South Aiken put together a 10-play scoring drive to pull within two points.

Had Westwood played safe and punted, South Aiken would had taken a 14-8 lead into the locker room. And with South Aiken slated to receive on the opening third quarter kickoff, momentum would’ve shifted to the T-Breds’ side.

Instead, Westwood safety Cam Atkins intercepted South Aiken quarterback E.J. Hickson six plays into the drive, setting up another Redhawk score en route to a 36-22 win.

“Rashad threw a beautiful ball,” Quinn said. “It really changed the momentum for us right there.”

With the win, Westwood improved to 3-1. South Aiken’s struggles continued, the team falling to 0-5.

Despite its record, Quinn called South Aiken the toughest winless team he’s ever seen.

“It’s their size. They’ve got some big boys,” Quinn said. “We told our kids heading in to not overlook this team. They’re the best 0-5 team.” 

Westwood quarterback Ahman Green had another big night for the Redhawks.

The three-star Georgia State commit amassed 341 yards of offense, including 291 yards passing and 50 rushing. He had four touchdowns, including a fourth-quarter score when he walked into the end zone from two yards to ice the game.

While Quinn acknowledges the power of Green’s presence on the field, he gave special credit to Atkins.

“Cam Atkins is one of the best players in the state. He plays offense. He plays defense. He had multiple catches, touchdowns and an interception. He does everything for us,” Quinn said. “I think he’s the most underrated players in the state.”

Westwood never trailed in Friday night’s contest.

The Redhawks jumped out to an early lead on its first possession, driving 76 yards with Atkins catching a 15-yard TD pass with 9:06 on the clock. Green’s conversion put Westwood ahead 8-0.

After both teams traded punts, South Aiken closed the gap early in the second quarter. An eight-play drive that began with 3:25 left in the first quarter ended when Hickson connected with Jonathan Burns.

The extra point was good with South Aiken trailing 8-7 at the 11:54 mark.

After the fake punt that set up Westwood’s second score, South Aiken answered with on its next possession, trimming the deficit to 16-14 after Nequel Ryan’s 13-yard rushing TD and the extra point.

After intermission, however, Westwood took control.

The Redhawks went ahead 22-14 on a Green pass to Deshawn Boyd with 7:42 left in the third.

Westwood extended its lead to 30-14 later in the quarter in a 37-yard strike to Noah Jennings.