By Kenny Cofer
The Westfield Hornets had to dig deep into their bag of tricks Friday night to pull off a win against a very impressive John Milledge Academy team. The Hornets used one of the oldest plays in the book, the “hook and lateral”, to spark their final touchdown drive and push them to a 28-14 victory over the Trojans. The win clinched at minimum a share of the Region 4 title, but the Hornets can win it outright with a win from John Milledge over Augusta Prep this Friday.
With all the anticipation building to the game, it wouldn’t have been surprising if the matchup between Westfield and JMA failed to live up to the hype. Well… for once, a game actually lived up to the hype. Both the Hornets and the Trojans put on a show for the large crowd at Marvin Arrington Stadium. Westfield used strong defense in the first quarter along with a 37 yard TD run from Reagan Waller to take a 7-0 lead after the opening frame. It wasn’t until the second quarter that the two teams started matching scores.
After a beautiful 69 yard pass and catch from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Giles Amos for a touchdown, Westfield looked as if they might pull away leading 14-0 early in the second quarter. However, that was when it became the Harrison Bryant show for the Trojans. Rolling the dice, JMA coach JT Wall decided to line up and go for it on 4th down in his own territory. The gamble paid off as he lined up tight end Harrison Bryant behind the left tackle who was snapping the football, and had him run the wildcat play for a first down. The play became a common theme for the remainder of the game as Bryant continually ran the play for big yards.
The first down pick up seemed to spark the Trojans as they moved down deep into Westfield territory. Faced with a another 4th down, JMA rolled QB Trevor Evans out of the pocket and he found Noah Lavender who made a diving catch for the 32 yard touchdown. The TD sparked some excitement on the sideline for the boys from Milledgeville, and made it clear this was going to be a fight.
Not to be out done, Westfield responded with a drive of their own. The Hornets moved the ball patiently down field before Josh Jenkins capped off the drive with a 1 yard TD run. The Hornets led 21-7 with 4:36 to go in the first half.
With the Hornets back up two touchdowns, the Trojans knew they had to regain some momentum going into halftime. They put together an impressive drive behind the running and receiving of Harrison Bryant, and the passing of Trevor Evans to move the football down the field. Faced with 4th down from the 14 yard line with less than 10 seconds to go before halftime, QB Trevor Evans trusted his top playmaker Bryant. Evans lofted the football to the back corner of the end zone and Evans out jumped Hornet CB Reagan Waller to make the catch for a TD with 3 seconds remaining. Waller did all he could to knock it away, but Bryant was just too tall to be denied. The Trojans’ score made it 21-14 at the break.
Coming out of halftime, both teams were fired up. The two defenses battled hard and were able to keep both of the high-powered offenses out of the end zone. Both teams each forced a turnover and the game remained in a gridlock of 21-14 Westfield leading after the third quarter.
It was fitting that a great game like this would have to come down to the fourth quarter. Each team had battled all night, and Westfield looked to show their championship pedigree. Driving down the field, Hornet QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw to an open Gavin Edmondson on a 10 yard stop route. Edmondson made the catch, and immediately looked to his teammate Reagan Waller who was sprinting towards him and pitched it off to him before getting tackled. Waller took the football down the field for another 23 yards, and the Hornets were deep in the Trojans territory. The play seemed to spark the Hornets, and deflate the Trojans. A few plays later, Ryan Fitzpatrick capped off the drive with a 1 yard TD run to push the lead to 28-14 with 8:50 remaining.
With the two touchdown lead, the Westfield defense continued their great play and put the clamps down on Harrison Bryant and the JMA offense. Gavin Edmondson made the statement play of the game on defense when Bryant caught a quick screen pass, and was hit hard and brought down instantly by Edmondson. The play was symbolic of the intensity the Hornets defense played with the entire second half in pitching a shutout. The Hornets pulled out the 28-14 victory in a hard-earned region win.
Westfield stays at home this week as they step out of region play one last time to take on the Flint River Wildcats. The Hornets will look to push their win streak to 7 and build momentum before closing out the season on the road against Augusta Prep. The Spherion Pregame Show starts at 7:10pm, followed by the Grillmaster BBQ kickoff at 7:30pm. You can catch all the action only at midgasports.net!
Here are some extra tidbits on some things we noticed:
Guys that impressed:
John Walker Moore
Moody Law Firm Big Hit of the Game: Gavin Edmondson
Sonic Drive-In Play of the Game: Hook and Lateral Play from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Gavin Edmondson to Reagan Waller
Anytime Garage Door Repair Offensive Player of the Game: Reagan Waller
Custom Homes by Jeff Defensive Player of the Game: Matthew Moore