WESTMORELAND – White House Heritage’s Nick Desmarais had three touchdown receptions and recovered a punt he blocked in the end zone for another touchdown to boost the Patriots (4-4) past host Westmoreland (3-4) 34-13 in a non-region game Friday night.
Five keys to the contest:
Desmarais a mismatch
Desmarais, a senior playing football for the first time, was a complete mismatch for Westmoreland. He had a huge height advantage and several times he outleaped Westmoreland’s defender, who was perfectly positioned, to come down with the ball. Despite the Eagles’ best efforts, Desmarais had six catches for 231 yards and three touchdown receptions, one for 80 yards, one for 58 and one for 30.
“We’d seen film on (number) 14,” said Westmoreland coach Stephen Harris. “He’s done that all year. It wasn’t a surprise to us. But he’s about 6-5 and three of our defensive backs are about 5-8. It’s not a good match-up. He was obviously a difference maker.”
White House Heritage’s special teams blocked two Westmoreland punt attempts. One of them, which was blocked by Desmarais, rolled back to the end zone and Desmarais dove on it for the touchdown.
Both of the punt blocks were due to bad snaps to the punter. He had to pick the ball off the ground and by the time he set up to punt the Patriot defenders were in position to make the block.
“We really focused on special teams the last couple of weeks,” said White House Heritage coach Hunter Hicks. “Tonight we got our hands on a couple and it turned things around.”
Both teams also had extra point attempts blocked.
Patriot defensive adjustments
The Patriots made huge adjustments at the half on defense. In the first half the Eagles were able to move the ball effectively at times and accumulated 136 yards with eight first downs. In the second half Westmoreland only managed 49 yards and just four first downs.
Huge kickoff returns sets up touchdown
Corey Gardner had a 57-yard kickoff return to spark the Eagles in the third quarter. After White House Heritage scored the first touchdown of the second half to make it 20-7, Gardner’s kickoff return set the Eagles up at the White House Heritage 30 yard line. The Eagles also went for it on 4th-and-1 and picked up the first down during the drive, and scored to cut the gap to 20-13 when the extra point was blocked.
Gunter passes for 279 yards
White House Heritage quarterback Austin Gunter passed for 279 yards, with 231 of them going to Desmarais. He completed 12 of 19 passes in the game.