By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

ELKHART – The Elkhart Elks hit the road last Friday night for a game against the West Trojans and ran into a buzz saw in West.

The Trojans hung 29 points on the Elks in the first quarter and never looked back, as they defeated Elkhart by a final score of 57-19.

It was ugly from the get go as the Elks’ first possession of the game ended with a blocked punt which was scooped up by West’s Jacob Bates and returned for a touchdown. Bates also converted the two point attempt to help stake the Trojans to an early 8-0 lead.

After another Elkhart punt, Trojan QB Nathan Gerik orchestrated a 92 yard drive that ended with a 24-yard TD pass to Romeo Hernandez. The extra point by Fausto Rodriguez was good and made the score 15-0, midway through the first period of play.

The Elks’ next possession ended in disaster. Elkhart took possession of the ball at their own 30 but could not generate any offense. Forced to kick, a bad snap on the punt sent Elkhart’s Jacob McSwane scrambling for the ball.

He was able to corral the pigskin, but was tackled at the two yard line. On the play, McSwane was injured and had to be helped off the field.

Following the turnover on downs, the next play from scrimmage saw Bates plow his way into the end zone from the two to extend the Trojans lead. Rodriguez made the extra point and with three minutes still left in the quarter. West had opened up a 22-0 lead.

A three and out from Elkhart gave the ball back to West. The Trojans capitalized on the Elks’ failure to move the ball and added another TD late in the quarter on a Gerik to Hernandez 50-yard scoring strike to make the score 29-0, after the PAT.

Elkhart finally got on the board when John Ashford broke free on a 20 yard scoring run midway through the second quarter. Jayden Kurtz knocked home the extra point to cut the lead to 29-7, but that was as close as the Elks would get.

After the two teams exchanged fumbles near midfield, the Trojans added a late second quarter score when Gerik connected with Hernandez on a 57-yard TD reception. Rodriguez converted the extra point attempt to make the score 36-7 and brought the first half scoring to a close.

West picked up in the second half where they left off in the first half of play. The Trojans received the kickoff to open the third quarter and drove inside the Elkhart red zone. From the 15, Gerik and Hernandez teamed up – once again – on a 15 yard TD pass and with the PAT, the scoreboard read 43-7 at the seven minute mark of the third quarter.

The Elks managed to put together a sustained drive the next time they had the ball and drove the length of the field to score on a 16-yard gallop from Ashford to cut the West lead to 43-13 at the end of the third.

As the final period began, Gerik connected with Ryder Reese for 75 yards and a TD to push the lead out to 50-14, after the PAT.

A late rushing touchdown from Kain Klish extended the lead to 57-13 but on the ensuing kickoff, Elkhart sophomore Demarkus Ray fielded the ball at this own 17, broke to his left, cut back across the grain, found a crease in the kick coverage and took the ball 83 yards to the end zone.

The kick return brought the scoring to an end as the Trojans celebrated their 57-19 homecoming win.

The Elks return home next week for a game against the Teague Lions. Kickoff from Jerry Ives Memorial Stadium is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.