WESTMORELAND The Westmoreland Eagles withstood a late rally from Eagleville in the final minutes to hold onto a 20-17 victory in a crucial Region 4-2A contest.
Six things to know from the game:
Westmoreland surprised Eagleville with an onside kick on the opening kickoff. Blake Eakle recovered the ball for Westmoreland. The Eagles took advantage, marching 47 yards on 9 plays first on their first drive, which was capped off by a 6-yard run from Lucas James.
“Westmoreland came out and executed and did everything that they needed to do,” Eagleville head coach Floyd Walker said. “They did a great job with a surprise onside kick that our kids didn’t handle well and they did a good job in the return game too.”
Eagleville gains ground
Eagleville responded on its first possession of the game. Consecutive runs of 19 and 38 yards from running back Josh Stout helped lead to a 30-yard field goal. Despite outgaining Westmoreland in total yards in the first half by a 118-107 margin, the field goal would be Eagleville’s only points going into halftime.
“The first half we only limited them to three points,” Westmorland head coach Steve Harris said. They’ve got a great quarterback and some good receivers. And number seven (Josh Stout) is a very good running back also. I’m happy with the way we played. I thought we tackled much better than we did last Friday night and I think that was a big key to the ball game.”
Sloan cashes in
Westmoreland’s opening drive of the second half would be similar to the first, this time ending with a 2-yard touchdown from Tate Sloan. Sloan’s number was called on the last four plays of the drive, for a combined 25 rushing yards.
“We had a good overall work ethic tonight,” Sloan said. “The line worked their butts off. I couldn’t ask for more. We had some bad plays and some bad calls against us, but we had to keep our heads up going into halftime. We’ve been up before and then lost in close games so we just had to work harder than before.”
Visitors hang tough
A big play through the air came Eagleville’s way late in the third quarter. A 39-yard fade pass from Ethan Cobb to Graham Hatcher set up a 2-yard run from Josh Stout to cut into Westmoreland’s lead 12-10.
“I thought we ran the ball a little bit better,” Walker said. “We came in and wanted to run the ball like everyone else does in the state, but we’ve got a good quarterback and we wanted to utilize him some too. At the end of the day you didn’t score enough points, and that’s the bottom line.”
One more chance
After forcing a Westmoreland three-and-out late in the game, Eagleville got the ball back on their own 7-yard line, trailing 20-17 with a little less than two minutes remaining. Eagleville drove to the Westmoreland 33, where Josh Stout attempted a 49-yard field goal that fell short. Quarterback Ethan Cobb completed eight passes on 11 attempts for 60 yards on the drive, including four completions that converted into first downs.
An important region victory
With the victory, Westmoreland moves to 2-2 in region play and set themselves up for a favorable shot at the playoffs. The win also put the Eagles over the hump in recent close games that had previously not gone their way.
“It felt good to finally come out on top after all of the hard work that we’ve put in,” Sloan said. “There isn’t much you can do in those nail biters except play as hard as you can. Sometimes the best teams don’t win, and sometimes they do. We definitely needed this win. If we didn’t have it, our chances at the playoffs are shot.”
Harris added, “That was a great ballgame. Both teams fought until the very end and it came down to the last play. Things finally swung in our favor. I was so happy for our guys because they played so hard, and finally got one to go our way. I’m so excited for our football team. Credit goes to our offensive coaches. I thought they had a tremendous gameplan. And then our kids came out and executed.”