The West Stokes Wildcats relied heavily on their defense in a 35-17 victory over the quick North Rowan Cavaliers on homecoming night Friday.
The bulk of the offense for West Stokes came on the first drive of the game after forcing North Rowan to punt. The Wildcats, starting from their 20-yard line, marched 80-yards and scored when Alex Manly connected with Kameron Wall’s eleventh career touchdown, a Wildcat record, with 3:25 left in the first quarter. Patrick Ellis was perfect on the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
On the Cavaliers next possession, the Wildcats Caustin Beckner sacked North Rowan’s quarterback causing a fumble and the first of six turnovers of the evening. Sophomore Ty Walker scooped the ball and headed 35-yards to pay dirt with 1:47 left in the quarter. Ellis made the point after and the Wildcats lead grew to 14-0.
The Wildcats’ defense forced a punt by North, but then created another turnover when Larry Highfield intercepted a pass when he jumped from his defensive end position knocking the ball in the air and then taking possession on the Cavalier 8-yard line. Devan Hairston carried the next three carries before scoring from 1-yard out. Ellis spilt the upright for a 21-0 lead with 7:47 remaining before halftime.
The Cavaliers closed the gap slightly before the half when kicker Jacob Young connected on a 23-yard field goal with a little over 3-mintes left before the half.
North Rowan added to their score in the third quarter when they forced a fumble by West Stokes on the 18-yard line. The Cavaliers Xavier Haley dashed 18-yards on the first offensive play to help North gain momentum and cut the Wildcats’ lead to 21-10 with 7:54 left in the quarter.
After each team traded punts to start the fourth quarter, the Wildcats’ used their third interception of the night to stop a Cavalier drive when Gavin Parker ripped a pass out of the air and returned it 45-yards down to the Cavaliers’ 20-yard line. The Wildcats used a little trickery on fourth and five from the 15-yard line when Ellis lined up to attempt a 32-yard field goal and faked the field goal throwing a pass to Jacob Rosecrans for the touchdown and a 28-10 lead with 3:48 left in the game.
Trying to mount a little bit of momentum, the Cavaliers stayed with the passing attack. The combo of Beckner and Walker had something to say about that again! Beckner with the big hit and a sack forced another fumble and Walker scooped and scored again, this time from 40-yards out, to stretch the Purple Cats lead to 35-10 with 2:13 left.
North Rowan scored the final touchdown of the game with 22-seconds left.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” said head coach Jimmy Upchurch. “Our defense really shined tonight forcing six turnovers and helping us win a game when our offense seemed to sputter at times. I’m glad we have a week off to get some bumps and bruises healed as we start conference play next week against an always tough matchup with North Surry.”
Offensively for West, they only gained 174-yards with 123-yards on the ground. Hairston led the offense with 24-carries for 97-yards and a touchdown. Manley, only playing in the first half, had 7-carries for 36-yards and had 36-yards passing on 5-for-7 and a touchdown.
Defensively for the Wildcats, they held North Rowan to 138-total yards of offense. They forced six turnovers, three fumbles (Matthew Craver, Walker (2)) and three interceptions (Jacob Moore, Parker, Highfield). Beckner lead the team with 11-tackles and 2-sacks. Walker and Moore added 8-tackles each, while Jacob Conn and Highfield had 7-tackles each.
The Wildcats (5-1) will host their first conference game of the year against the North Surry Greyhounds (4-2) on Friday, October 2nd at 7:30pm. The JV Cats will travel to North Surry on the Thursday before with a game time of 7:00pm.
WS – Kameron Wall 18-yard reception from Alex Manley; Patrick Ellis kick (3:25)
WS – Ty Walker 35-yard fumble return; Ellis kick (1:47)
WS – Devan Hairston 1-yard run; Ellis kick (7:47)
NR – Jacob Young 23-yard field goal (3:20)
NR – Xavier Haley 18-yard run; Young kick (7:47)
WS – Jacob Rosecrans 15-yard reception from Ellis; Ellis kick (3:48)
WS – Walker 40-yard fumble return; Ellis kick (2:13)
NR – Trey Stoner 34-yard reception from Joe Ellis; Young kick (0:22)
North Rowan 0 3 7 7 17
West Stokes 14 7 0 14 35