Panthers Ride Turnovers, Second Half Surge to Victory
By Will Johnson Messenger Reporter
WESTWOOD – If you’re a fan of smash-mouth, three yards and a cloud of dust, Westwood was the place to be on Friday night. If you’re a fan of the wide open, let’s throw the ball 50 times a game style of offense, well – probably not.
The Frankston Indians traveled to Westwood to take on the Panthers in the season opener for both teams in a game that saw the two teams combine for a total of two completed passes for 10 yards. Actually, there were three completions if you count an interception.
The two teams, did however, show a fondness for the running game as the Indians and Panthers combined for over 700 yards on the ground. Over 500 of those yards belonged to the Panthers as their dynamic duo of JD Clewis and Red Horse Warren accounted for nearly 400 of those yards in Westwood’s 61-22 demolition of Frankston.
The game started out like it was going to be a low scoring affair as the initial touchdown came midway through the first quarter and gave the Panthers an early 7-0 lead.
Frankston opened the game on offense and moved out to midfield, but the first of six turnover
s jumped up and bit the Indians as they crossed the 50. Westwood moved the ball inside the red zone behind the running of Clewis and Warren, however, the Panthers could not convert on a fourth and one and turned the ball back over to Frankston.
The Indians marched the length of the field and just when it appeared they would draw first blood, Frankston QB Garrett Bean was picked off inside the 10 by Westwood’s Mikel Calhoun.
The interception was followed by a lengthy Westwood drive that ended with Panther QB Darius Turner punching it in from 4 yards out.
After the touchdown run, the Indians returned the favor as they launched a 16 play drive of their own, capped off by the first of three touchdowns from Boogie Krajca. The try for two was good and as the second quarter got underway, Frankston led 8-7.
The lead didn’t last very long as Clewis returned the ensuing kickoff to the Frankston 40 and the Indians gave him 15 more to the 25 yard line after they hit the speedy junior out of bounds. Three plays later, Clewis was able to turn the corner on the Indians “D” and scampered across the goal line to give the lead back to Westwood.
It was a lead they never relinquished. Warren added a score before the teams headed into the locker rooms for halftime with Westwood ahead by a score of 21-8.
After the break, the Panthers salted the game away. Westwood had deferred on the coin toss and started the second half with possession of the ball. A long run by Warren moved the offense inside the 20 and two plays later, Clewis found the end zone with 10:37 still remaining in the third.
Following the kickoff, Frankston pushed the ball to the Westwood 45 but disaster struck as the turnover bug came back. On the next play, Clewis found a crease and took the rock to the house for his third score of the night. After Justin Ramirez hit the extra point, the Panthers led by a score of 35-8.
Warren added another TD before the quarter ended and as the teams headed into the final period of play, Westwood was up by a score of 41-22.
Krajca was the only highlight of the quarter for the Indians, as he broke off a 65 yard TD gallop at the midway point of the third.
The fourth quarter was more of the same as the Panthers added 20 points to their total and Krajca scored his third touchdown of the night to make the final score Westwood 61 and Frankston 22.
Clewis ran the ball 18 times for 197 yards and three scores while Warren ran the ball 17 times for 193yards and three TDs.
Krajca scored all three of the Indians’ touchdowns and ran for 157 yards on 14 carries.
Following the game, Westwood AD/Coach Kevin Hayes commented on his team’s performance. “I think the key to the game was our line play. It’s been aggressive so far this year and we had two really good scrimmages. Each week they’ve gotten better. Tonight, I thought our offensive line dominated upfront which allowed us to run the ball,” he said.
Concerning the Westwood defense, Coach Hayes remarked, “We were a little shaky at times. Part of that was their scheme. Their scheme uses a lot of misdirection and we needed to have a better perimeter force. We didn’t have it tonight and that’s where they gained their yardage. We were over pursuing early in the game and they were reading our nose (guard). We made the correction at halftime and it helped, but they still hurt us on the perimeter, somewhat. It’s early in the year and it’s something we need to work on.”
The Panthers are off next week but return to action on Sept. 9 when they travel to Kirbyville to take on the Wildcats. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.