WILLIAMSPORT – After a solid win against Ashville Teays Valley in Week 1 and a blowout win against Logan Elm in Week 2, the Mustangs of Westfall welcomed unbeaten Circleville to Williamsport for a Pickaway County fight that would crown the county champion for 2007.
After Circleville battled to keep things close through the first three quarters, the Mustang defense took over the game in the final 12 minutes as Westfall turned multiple Tiger turnovers into 17 fourth quarter points to pull away and capture the non-conference victory, 31-7.
The first half saw both teams kill drives with penalties and turnovers. Late in the first quarter it was Westfall that capitalized on a break to grab the early advantage. The mistake came on special teams when Circleville was called for a personal foul to extend the Westfall drive. Quarterback D.J. Cain wasted no time taking advantage as on the ensuing play the junior signal caller broke loose for a 43-yard run. Eventually it was Cain that capped off the drive with a five-yard run for the game’s first score. The Cameron Puckett PAT split the uprights to give Westfall the early 7-0 advantage.
This would actually serve as the game’s halftime score; however, both teams had golden opportunities to find the end zone in the second quarter. Westfall got some great field position early in the second quarter thanks to sacks from Phil Hartley and Zane Bailey forcing a Circleville punt.
The Mustangs then moved the football all the way down to the Tiger’s one-yard line with the drive’s biggest playing coming on a pass, catch, and run from quarterback Cain to junior Tyler Cobb that covered 56-yards. Westfall looked to be in great shape to punch it in; however, as the ball was snapped the play was whistled dead as the Mustangs were called for a delay of game. This five-yard penalty moved Westfall back to the six-yard line and on the next play Cain was looking for All-Ohioan wide receiver Jack Gose, but the pass was intercepted killing the Westfall scoring chance and giving the Tigers the possession on the touchback.
Later in the quarter it was now Circleville’s time to threaten and they did just that. Circleville running back Cody Griffin finally got some running room and had his Tigers moving past midfield as the first half clock ticked under a minute, but on the next play, quarterback Kory Hartinger’s pass was picked off by Westfall’s Drew Joyce and the Westfall senior returned it to the Circleville 26 where the Mustangs would take over with 28 seconds remaining before intermission.
To Hartinger’s credit, the quarterback now turned cornerback would turn the table when he picked off a Cain pass at the goal line to send the teams to the locker room with Westfall clinging to a 7-0 lead.
“We made a few minor adjustments with handling their blitz from the outside, but for the most part we just wanted to sharpen up and execute better,” first-year Westfall head coach Scott Keller said. “Our offense depends so much on having good rhythm and a lot of the penalties and other mistakes we were making in the first half were making it extremely difficult to develop any consistency at all.”
Circleville’s opening drive of the third quarter did start positive with a Griffin run for a first down, but as the Tigers moved across midfield the Westfall defense stepped up and knocked the ball loose and Hartley recovered for the Mustangs.
On the ensuing drive, Westfall was facing a tough decision when it faced a fourth and three from the Circleville 40-yard line. Keller decided to keep his offense on the field and his quarterback responded with a perfectly thrown ball that Cobb hauled in for a first down and a whole lot more. Cobb would shed three would-be Tiger tacklers and eventually fight his way down to the one-yard line. On the next play, Cobb’s number was called again – this time from the tailback spot – and the junior bulled his way across the goal line to give his Mustangs a 13-0 lead. Once again Puckett’s PAT was good and Westfall led 14-0.
“That first drive of the second half was really our chance to get into the game,” said Circleville head coach Keith Downing who from the mid-80s to the mid-90s coached Westfall to six league titles. “After not playing great we still had a chance to drive and get even, but we just made too many mistakes and too many turnovers and Westfall capitalized like good teams are going to do when given the chance.”
From this point, the Mustang defense took over the game. The next Circleville drive resulted in a three-and-out thanks to sacks from Tyler Rodgers and Bailey. The Westfall offense took advantage of the fine field position using a steady running game that consisted of Ben Kline, Joyce, Cobb, and Cain. As the Mustangs reached the Circleville 30-yard line it faced a fourth-and-five when the Cain and Cobb connection hooked up for another big play and another first down. After the teams marched to the other end of the field for the fourth quarter, Westfall added to its lead when Cobb went off right tackle and found the end zone. After Puckett’s PAT once again found its way through the uprights the Mustangs led 21-0 and were on the verge of pulling away.
“Coach Seymour (Westfall defensive coordinator Todd Seymour) does a great job with our defense,” Keller said. “Our defense has been rock solid. Our offense gets a lot of credit for the points we put up, but our defense has been incredible. They not only keep our opponents off the board, but they cause so many turnovers and give our offense great field position to play with.”
The Mustangs would play add-on from that point as a Daniel Burke interception and another Hartley fumble recovery led to a Puckett 25-yard field goal and a Joyce 8-yard touchdown run respectively to completely put the Tigers away at 31-0. All totaled, Puckett had a perfect night recording seven points with four PATs and the 25-yard field goal.
“He is a kid that has made great strides and continues to improve all the time,” said Keller of his junior place-kicker. “He is such a great weapon to have when you get down inside the 20-yard line, especially late in games when you are trying to stretch a lead to multiple possessions.”
The Tigers did avoid the shutout when Griffin found the end zone from 2-yards out to get Circleville on the board at 31-6. A Kort Wolfe PAT made it 31-7.
For the game, Griffin carried it 15 times for 41 yards and a TD. Hartinger completed half of his 14 attempts for 90 yards as the Tiger offense could only muster 153 total yards.
On the other side, Westfall got a balanced attack that totaled 355 total yards. Cain completed 10-of-14 passes for 152 yards and equally impressive the Westfall quarterback rushed 17 times for 86 yards and a TD. Joyce carried it five times for 30 yards, and Cobb had a huge all-around night as the junior ran sven times for 27 yards and two TDs and caught four balls for 107 yards.
Westfall (3-0) travels to Bainbridge Paint Valley next Friday to meet the Bearcats in Week 1 of Scioto Valley Conference play. Circleville (2-1) returns home to host Logan Elm.