By John Howley/SportingPumpkin.com
WILLIAMSPORT — Westfall opened the game with a long scoring drive, but it was a quick one to end the first half that put the Mustangs on top to stay on the way to a 36-21 win over Zane Trace Friday night.
While Westfall opened the 2018 season with three straight wins, two wins in their opening Scioto Valley Conference hasn’t happened since the 2013 season.
“Because of the different schedule, it’s a different 2-0,” Westfall coach Brad Smith said. “Southeastern is coming of two phenomenal seasons and that Zane Trace team is very, very good. To be able to get those two wins, it almost feels like team signature wins.”
The Mustangs had fallen behind 13-8 with 1:18 left in the first half after ZT’s Ben Nichols found Caden Fry for a 28-yard score.
Undaunted, Westfall’s Marcus Whaley completed passes to Jarrod Held, Luke Blackburn and then Held again to cover 25 yards. After Whaley ran for a couple, he found Blackburn for a 37-yard score just 21 seconds before the half ended.
“They go up and it’s like, ‘How are we going to respond,’” Smith said. “I just couldn’t have been happier with how our guys responded. That’s the mark of a team – are they going to fold or are they going to come back when the other team goes up, and there was no fold in our guys tonight.”
Westfall opened the second half by forcing a ZT turnover on the opening series as Trey Keeton recovered a fumble on the third play and Blackburn came up with an interception on ZT’s next possession.
In between, the Mustangs took advantage of good field position after the fumble to cover 35 yards on five plays with Whaley running it in from eight yards out and the Mustangs were up 22-13.
The Mustangs held ZT to 61 yards on the Pioneers’ first four possessions of the second half.
“We got behind and we didn’t get back into what we were doing in the first half and that was running the quick pitch and the dives,” ZT coach Heath Hinton said of his team’s offensive issues in the second half. “I’ll take the blame on that. We’ve just got to execute and have a better week of practice this week and we’ll be OK.
“We were able to get some first-half momentum, but they were able to make bigger plays. They made some turnovers and we had some penalties later in the game that really hurt us.”
“(Our defensive coordinator) came up with a really good defensive plan, so coach Blankenship gets a lot of credit for putting that together along with coach Davey, because those two, primarily, run the defense,” Smith said. “For a while, it was bend but don’t break and then Zane Trace made some key errors that we were able to take advantage of.”
The Mustangs put together a 70-yard drive in the fourth quarter that was capped by Trey Keeton running in from three yards out with 6:37 left.
After turning ZT over on downs, Westfall added a final score on an 18-yard run from Bryce Wickline with 3:17 left.
ZT put together one last drive that covered 70 yards on seven running plays with Daniel Barnhart scoring from a yard out with one second on the clock.
Westfall’s initial score of the night came on the opening drive. That series saw the Mustangs run 11 plays and use up nearly seven minutes before Whaley connected with Rex Brown for a 28-yard score.
ZT answered with a 12-play, six-minute drive of its own that ended with Barnhart scoring from a yard out.
Whaley led the Mustangs with 125 yards rushing on 18 carries and threw for 95 yards, all in the first half.
Nichols threw for 147 yards for the Pioneers while Barnhart was the team’s leading rusher with 89 yards on 14 carries. Logan McDowell had 73 yards on 18 carries.
Westfall is back on the road next week as they take on fellow unbeaten Adena, a 34-6 winner over Unioto this week and a 50-28 winner over Paint Valley last week.
Smith said he didn’t know much about Adena, Friday night, but he knew the Mustangs were going to have their hands full.
“They scored 50 on Paint Valley so that tells you something right there. We’ve got to figure out how to stop those guys,” he said. “They’ve got a good quarterback, a senior, coming back. We’ve just got to figure out what they’re doing and find a way to stop it.”
Zane Trace (1-1) is back home next week to take on Unioto.
“We’ve just got to learn from our mistakes,” Hinton said. “We’re still getting to know each other and getting to know the process of just getting better every week, being a good teammate and being a good team.”
Westfall 36, Zane Trace 21
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 F
Zane Trace 0 13 0 8 21
Westfall 8 8 6 14 36
WF — Rex Brown 28 pass from Marcus Whaley (Luke Blackburn pass from Marcus Whaley), 5:19.
ZT — Daniel Barnhart 1 run (kick failed), 11:25.
ZT — Caden Fry 28 pass from Ben Nichols (Ben Nichols kick), 1:18.
WF — Luke Blackburn 37 pass from Marcus Whaley (Luke Blackburn from Marcus Whaley), 0:21.
WF — Marcus Whaley 8 run (pass failed), 8:12.
WF — Trey Keeton 3 run (pass failed), 6:37.
WF — Bryce Wickline 18 run (Keeton run) 3:17.
ZT — Daniel Barnhart 1 run (Brendon Lytle run), 0:01.
First downs 15 15
Rushing yards 41-181 33-202
Passing yards 147 95
Comp.-Att.-Int 11-16-1 6-13-0
Total yards 328 297
Fumbles-Lost 1-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 10-89 9-65
Punts-Ave. 2-38 3-36
RUSHING – Zane Trace — Logan McDowell 18-73, Ben Nichols 9-19, Daniel Barnhart 14-89. Westfall — Trey Keeton 11-36, Marcus Whaley 18-125, Andrew Browning 3-23, Bryce Wickline 1-18.
PASSING – Zane Trace — Ben Nichols 11-16-1-147. Westfall — Marcus Whaley 6-13-0-95.
RECEIVING – Zane Trace — Nalin Robinson 6-63, Caden Fry 1-28, Daniel Barnhart 1-28, Dillon Volmar 3-28. Westfall — Rex Brown 1-28, Andrew Browning 1-5, Jarrod Held 2-15, Bryce Wickline 2-47.