By MIKE HOLDER
Westwood's attempt at an early lead was successful — but short lived — as the Panthers took another loss in district play against the Trinity Tigers, 40-7, Friday at Panthers Stadium.
That quick early lead that Westwood head coach Roger Mays was looking for came when Micah Ellerbe returned the opening kickoff 66 yards for the touchdown. Ryan Walters kicked the extra point and Westwood led Trinity 7-0 after 11 seconds.
“The early momentum was what they were looking for and Ellerbe was able to bring that to the table,” Mays said.
The Tigers moved the ball inside the Westwood 5-yard line on their possession but came up short on fourth down and the Panthers took over at their own 4-yard line.
Westwood could not move the ball well to get out of the shadow of their end zone and set up Trinity on a short punt at Westwood’s 32-yard line.
Trinity took seven plays to score as Karsten Mack ran it in from seven yards and the Tigers led 8-7 after Mack ran in the 2-point conversion.
Westwood and Trinity traded possessions offensively leading into the second quarter, with Westwood starting its next drive at their own 43-yard line.
The Panthers moved the ball into Tiger territory with eight consecutive running plays and found themselves at the 4-yard line on fourth down. A Ryan Cernoch pass into the flat was intercepted by Trinity to stop the Westwood momentum.
Trinity took over and marched 93 yards, highlighted by a fourth down conversion at its own 11-yard line, and a 53-yard run by quarterback Michael Lewis set the Tigers up for their next score. Karsten Mack scoring from 21 yards brought the score to 14-7 Trinity after the 2-point conversion failed.
Westwood moved the ball into Tiger territory but a fumble by Steven Green gave the ball back to Trinity with under a minute to play. Quarterback Michael Lewis completed one pass for 23 yards and then took matters into his own hands as he rambled in from 41 yards out with 11 seconds left to go in the first half to bring the score to 20-7 at the break.
“We were concerned about quarterback Lewis running the ball and he made some huge plays in the first half to help them out,” Mays said.
Trinity took up right where they left off in the beginning of the second half, moving from their own 36-yard line to the Westwood 10-yard line where Aaron Kirkwood took the handoff and darted in for the score. Trinity failed on the extra point and led 26-7 with nine minutes left in the third quarter.
Neither team could find the end zone for the rest of the third quarter and almost half of the fourth, but Trinity changed that course with a one-play possession as Karsten Mack trotted in from 43 yards and Lewis ran in the extra point to bring the score to 34-7 Trinity.
Trinity finished up the scoring with four minutes left in the game, when Terrence Potts ran it in from 10 yards to bring the final score to 40-7 in favor of Trinity.
“We knew coming into the game we were going to have to play with some consistency on offense and defense but we just did not make that happen the way we wanted to,” Mays said. “We had a lot of injuries we were dealing with at halftime that affected us in the long run and we just could not keep it up in the second half when we need it.”
The Tigers were led on offense by running back Karsten Mack who finished with 284 yards on 23 carries and quarterback Michael Lewis chipped 147 yards on 14 carries.
Westwood was led by DJ Hicks, who carried the ball 11 times for 39 yards.