Westfall senior Drew Joyce said. “Those turnovers lifted our moral and got speed and everything else working for us.”
The Mustangs cashed three turnovers into 21 points during the second half of a 42-7 rout of visiting Piketon.
“They’re a good team and they gave us some trouble in the first half,” Westfall senior Drew Joyce said. “Our leadership stepped up in the second half and we came out firing.
“Those turnovers lifted our moral and got speed and everything else working for us.”
Westfall (9-0, 6-0) claimed the conference title for the second straight year, and can take the honor outright with a gold football if they defeat Unioto next week.
“It’s exciting for us to win the SVC for the second year in a row, but we want a gold football,” Joyce said. “For us to do that, we have to bring a good effort against Unioto next week.”
The Mustangs held Piketon to only six first downs and 102 yards of total offense. Seth Hardin took a fumble back 38 yards for a touchdown and Bryant Gibson added a 45-yard interception return for a score to lead the defensive effort.
“Our defense stepped up, especially in the second half,” Westfall head coach Scott Keller said.
And as what has become normal for the Mustangs, they won the game in the trenches.
“I feel like we have the best set of skill positions around, but when you get right down to it, games are won and lost up front,” Keller said. “Our offensive and defensive lines, at least for nine games now, have controlled the line of scrimmage in every game. When you control the line of scrimmage, you can do just about anything you want to offensively. I don’t care if you line up in the spread or wishbone.”
Leading only 14-7 at halftime, Westfall smacked Piketon (6-3, 4-2) for 22 points in the third quarter. The Westfall offense started the push with a seven-play touchdown drive that went for 68 yards.
Three carries for 48 yards from Hardin set up a three-yard touchdown strike from D.J. Cain to Jack Gose that made it 21-7.
Then, it was time for the Westfall defense to take center stage.
Piketon’s Andrew Osburn fumbled three possessions later, resulting in Hardin scooping up the pigskin and going 38 yards for the score.
“That was a surprise,” Hardin said. “Tyler Rogers, Drew Joyce and maybe Zane Bailey got in to force the fumble and I just picked it up and took off.”
Hardin pounded in the two-point conversion after Piketon was offside on the PAT, putting Westfall ahead 29-7.
Two Piketon possessions later, Joyce intercepted quarterback Kenny Helton to put the Mustangs on the Redstreak 20.
“I was spying the quarterback,” Joyce said. “He looked left and then started to look right and I jumped in front of the wide receiver.”
Cain connected with Ben Cline four plays later on a three-yard pass to put Westfall ahead 36-7 following Cameron Puckett’s PAT.
Bryant Gibson capped scoring in the fourth quarter by taking an interception back 45 yards to pay dirt.
The final score isn’t an indication of how the game was in the first half. Piketon, an underdog coming into the contest, came out with intensity and forced a pair of turnovers.
Justin Mowery came up with the first big play by recovering a Westfall fumbled punt on his own 45.
Piketon tied the game at 7-7 10 plays later on a 1-yard run from Osburn.
“They did a great job just managing the game, and (Piketon head coach) Tyler (Gullion) does a great job of that,” Keller said. “They used the clock, picked up small chunks of yards and left our offense on the sideline.”
Hardin and Cain accounted for Westfall’s pair of touchdowns in the first half on runs of 4 and 1 yards, respectively.
Westfall appeared poised to expand its lead in the closing minutes of the first half, but Piketon’s Tyler Adams made the first of three interceptions on the night to end the drive.
Being challenged for the first time since the Circleville game in Week 3, the Mustangs responded.
“We were pumped to be in a good game,” Joyce said. “The coaches wanted to see how we would react to it. We came out and got after it.”
The team received an additional boost of motivation as part of the Piketon team ran down the home sideline to warm-up for the second half.
Westfall gained 291 total yards of offense.
Hardin had 10 carries for 95 yards, Gose caught four passes for 76 yards and Cain completed 8-of-15 passes for 98 yards in the Westfall win.
“The defense played well even though we gave up 42 points, but the offense didn’t play well,” Gullion said.
Ben Cline added an interception.
Piketon’s Tyler Tackett had eight carries for 29 yards, Helton completed 8-of-16 passes for 57 yard and Caleb Southworth caught six passes for 57 yards.
Westfall travels to winless Unioto next week. Piketon travels to Huntington.
“This is a measuring stick to see where we’re at as a program,” Gullion said. “We played with them for a half so we’re halfway there.
“ … That’s what I told the young men. This is where we want to go, and to be pretty honest we’re pretty close. But we have to play four quarters and we didn’t.”