By Charles Curcio, Sports Editor
Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013 —
The 2013 season for West Stanly and first-year head coach James Johnson has been one of setting higher goals and expectations for the team after last year’s winless season.
After ending the program’s 12-game losing streak in the second week of the season at home over South Stanly, the Colts looked to end a similar streak in Rocky River Conference play as West hosted the Central Academy Cougars on homecoming night.
In a defensive football game reminiscent of old-time football, the Colts staged a dramatic last-minute drive and scored in the final minute for a 14-7 win over Central Academy.
The defenses of both teams kept the score low, but it was the defense of West Stanly (2-5, 1-1 RRC) that came up with four takeaways from the Cougars (3-5, 0-2). West forced four Central turnovers, two fumbles and two interceptions, and held the Cougars to 118 rushing yards on 31 carries, an average of 3.87 yards per attempt.
A trio of passers for Central Academy managed just 64 passing yards on 5-of-16 passing.
Blaine Long’s interception came in the final minute of the first half and came up just 10 yards short of a touchdown.
Conversely, the Central defense held West Stanly to 149 total yards of offense and limited the backfield duo of Ryan McCormick and B.J. Hill to 94 and 35 yards, respectively.
Colt quarterback Matt Price was sacked four times for a net loss of 23 yards while also being held to 25 passing yards.
The early battle for field position went to the visiting Cougars, who eventually pinned West deep after several exchanges of the football. Central had the ball at the West 43 with 2:16 left in the opening quarter, but a fumbled snap led to another Cougar punt.
The biggest offensive play of the first half came three minutes into the second when Central’s Sergio Gomez broke loose for a 45-yard run down the visiting sidelines to the West 22-yard line. The Colt defense held their ground on the next three plays, and a 37-yard field goal attempt by Jeremy Fehlman went wide left.
After West’s defense recovered a fumble at the Central 38-yard line B.J. Hill capped off a seven-play scoring drive with a pitch to the left side of the line.
The Colts came close to adding another touchdown in the final minute when Long intercepted a Sam Heda pass and returned it to the Cougars’ 10-yard line. West ran three plays but did not get in as the clock ran out in the first half.
In the third quarter, the Cougars got a big lift from their defense after having to defend short field when Heda threw an interception to West’s McCormick on Central’s first drive. The Cougars sacked Price on fourth down and pushed the ball back to the Cougar 44.
Nine plays and 66 yards later, assisted by a 15-yard facemask penalty, Deshawn Morrison scored on a four-yard run. Fehlman’s point after tied the game 7-7 with 3:52 left in the third.
Late in the fourth, the Colts took over and drove down to the Central 32, where an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Cougars kept the drive alive. Four plays later, McCormick hauled in a pitch to the left side and raced to the pylon for the winning score with 50 seconds left.
Central tried to mount a drive in the last minute, but managed just one first down and the Colts ran out the final 30 seconds.
“I had lost my contacts before that play; Matt Price had to come and tell me each of the plays. I had to focus on the ball hard and watched it coming out of his hand; I tried to snatch it and bring it in,” McCormick said, giving credit to Bailey Gibbs and Ethan Burleson for blocking on the game-winner play.
“We got to the ball better than in a long time; I’m really proud of the whole defense,” Johnson said, singling out the efforts of freshman Cameron Brown, who according to Johnson, “played better tonight than he had on JV for three weeks.”
Johnson also talked about the efforts of Anthony Pethel, who took over in the second quarter for Tyler Efird, who was disqualified along with a Central player on matching personal foul calls.
“He’s not big, but he works hard. We had a lot of guys step into role,” Johnson said.
West Stanly travels to Forest Hills (3-5, 2-0 RRC) on Friday night.
CA 0 0 7 0 7
WS 0 7 0 7 14
WS – B.J. Hill 6 run (Brady Ennis kick), 1:52, 2nd
CA – Deshawn Morrison 4 run (Jeremy Fehlman kick), 3;52, 3rd
WS – Ryan McCormick 4 run (Ennis kick), :50, 4th
1st Downs 10 13
Rushing 31-118 48-124
Passing 64 25
C-A-I 5-16-2 3-5-0
Punts 4-36.0 7-33.1
Penalties 6-55 8-50
Fum.-Lst. 4-2 1-0
TOP 20:58 27:02
Rushing: CA – Morrison 19-43, TD; Gomez 4-55; Porter 3-10; Heda 2-8; Anderson 1-3; McKinnon 1-0; Tillman 1-(-1). WS – McCormick 20-94, TD; Hill 10-36, TD; Barbee 5-23; Price 12-(-21); TEAM 1-(-7).
Passing: CA – Heda 3-10, 45 yds., 1 int.; Carthage 2-5, 19 yds.; Morrison 0-1, 0 yds. WS – Price 3-5, 25 yds.
Receiving: CA – McKinnon 2-35; Porter 2-23; Davis 1-4. WS – Rowe 2-20; Hill 1-5.