Patriots' passing game spoils LeZotte's return
By Matt Middleton | Staff Writer
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Video highlights from the second half of the Aquinas at Westside football game.

The name of the play is not meant to fool or confuse Westside players. It's called end-around pass, and the Patriots could run it 100 times and it would not work better than it did Friday night.

Tight end Steven Gabriel took the ball from quarterback Brandon Hill and tossed a 69-yard scoring pass to wide-open sophomore Tre Isom late in the third quarter, one of two long passing plays responsible for Westside's 14-9 nonregion home victory over Aquinas.

"That gave us confidence and all the momentum," said Hill, a sophomore who tossed a 61-yard pass to Isom later in the quarter that set up Allen Elmore's 2-yard scoring run.

First-year Aquinas coach Matt LeZotte, once a record-setting quarterback at Westside, was denied his first career win even though his team led 9-0 late in the third quarter and dominated possession. The two long passes wiped away whatever advantage the Irish had created.

"We did a good job executing them," said Westside coach Gerald Barnes, whose team improved to 2-1. "We stayed patient, and our defense kept us in the game."

Aquinas (0-2) never scored a touchdown even though it gained 205 yards, generated 15 first downs and on its second possession had a first-and-goal inside the 1-yard line. Quarterback Dane Anderson snuck into the end zone on that play, but the head official flagged the Irish for illegally pushing him across the line. They settled for a 20-yard Ethan LaPan field goal. LaPan also was good from 27 and 40 yards. Trailing by five points, Aquinas had two possessions in the final 5:04 but could never advance past midfield.

"We gave it away," said LeZotte, whose team was after its first win over a Richmond or Columbia county school since 2004. "We absolutely gave it away there at the end. ... We were not lulled to sleep (by the passing plays). We prepared for them."

Take away Westside's two long passes and the Patriots, missing injured star Chris Hunter (1,558 rushing yards as a junior), had only 47 yards of offense and four first downs. The Patriots would have finished with negative yardage in the first half had Elmore not romped 23 yards on the final play with Aquinas in a prevent defense.

Aquinas' best chance to snatch back the lead came when it took over possession on Westside's 20-yard line with 8:06 left, but freshman Brendan Douglas fumbled on the first play of the drive. Douglas and David Mysona combined to rush for 81 tough yards, but just 16 after halftime.

"Our defense played well, you have to give it to them," Barnes said. "Look at the scoreboard. They could have had 21 points. It's a good thing they didn't."

Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or matt.middleton@augustachronicle.com.

WESTSIDE 14, AQUINAS 9

PLAY OF THE GAME: Tight end Steven Gabriel threw a 69-yard TD pass to Tre Isom on a trick play for the Patriots' first touchdown.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Isom's two long catches changed the momentum of the game. He also caught a 61-yard pass that set up Allen Elmore 's 2-yard scoring run.

WHY AQUINAS LOST: It dominated possession but committed 13 penalties and turned the ball over four times.

WHY WESTSIDE WON: Its defense didn't allow Aquinas into the end zone and played strong against the run after the first two Irish drives.

NEXT: Georgia Military at Aquinas, Westside plays host to Hephzibah, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

From the Saturday, September 12, 2009 edition of the Augusta Chronicle
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