senior Josh Kassil had 173 yards rushing and a touchdown. He
also completed a 45 yard pass that led to another score. But
Westlake had fourth quarter fumbles that almost let Bay steal
the win. (Photo by Larry Bennet)
fumble the Little Brown Jug
but hold on for 14-7 win over Bay
By Zachary Dzurick
Published Sept. 7, 2005
here for an archive of West Life Sports Editor Zachary
Dzurick's "Red Right 88" weekly columns.
just 1:33 remaining in the game, Westlake led long time rival Bay
14-0. It seemed certain the Demons would once again take possession
of the Little Brown Jug.
But for the third time in the fourth quarter, Westlake lost a fumble
this time on a hand-off.
Given two earlier opportunities in the quarter, the Bay offense
had returned the favor with two turnovers of their own. This time,
however, the Rockets needed just four plays to capitalize as senior
quarterback Tom Davis found senior Robert Rankin for a five-yard
The Rockets then set-up a chance for a miracle when they recovered
the ensuing onside kick.
But the pattern of the night followed, whenever Bay seemed ready
to move the ball on offense, the Westlake pass rush put a stop to
With 24 seconds left, senior Craig Acker sacked Davis to end the
game. The Demons totaled five sacks, many of which came on third
and long plays near midfield. Bay's offense also hurt itself with
five third-down penalties that either negated first downs or made
it much more difficult to achieve.
Westlake coach Bob Thayer credited his defensive coaches and players
for the win.
"Defensively our coaches had an outstanding plan," Thayer said.
"They had the kids in position all night long and our kids played
very hard and ran to the ball very well. We put our defense in some
tough spots tonight and they responded well."
Thayer took his team's 14-7 win but he knows the five total turnovers
should have cost more dearly.
"We made it very difficult on ourselves with five turnovers," Thayer
said. "I told the kids we made enough mistakes to lose two football
games. But I thought the offensive line played extremely well. Our
backs ran hard but had some trouble handling the football. However
the effort was there."
Bay coach Gary Sherwood knew his team let a winnable game slip away.
"The kids didn't quit, but we are not happy," Sherwood said. "We
just didn't play well. It was 14-7 and it was a very winnable game.
We had great field position. We kicked ourselves in the foot. At
the end of the game, you didn't know what would happen. They turned
it over and then we would turn it over. The score was 14-7 and sometimes
you wish you had lost 35-0 so at least you knew you had your rear
Westlake moved the ball well on its first two drives, but came away
with no points. Behind the running of senior running back Josh Kassil,
the Demons had a first and goal at the four-yard line on their first
possession. But senior Mark Petro, who also recovered three fumbles
and caused one to go with his 10 tackles, intercepted sophomore
quarterback Alex Kanareff's third down pass. After a Bay punt, Westlake
again moved the ball before stalling on the 23-yard line.
Bay's next punt was almost a disaster as junior Max Ouzts returned
it 28 yards but almost broke it for a touchdown before punter Evan
Helgesen tackled him.
On first down, Thayer went to his bag of tricks.
"We ran the toss sweep so well last week that we figured they would
be very conscious of it," Thayer said. "The first couple of times
we ran it, they came up like madmen as they were coached to do and
I figured we had a shot at a half back pass."
It worked as Kassil took the toss and then found senior Andrew Gray
for a 45-yard pass play that gave the Demons a first and goal at
the one-yard line. On the next play, senior fullback Craig Sprecher
scored the only first-half touchdown.
Westlake scored its second touchdown in the final minute of the
third quarter. The Demons took over on the 50-yard line after an
Ouzts interception. It ignited a 12-play, six-minute smash-mouth
drive as Kassil and Sprecher took turns battering Bay's defense.
Kassil scored the touchdown on a five-yard run.
Kassil finished with 173 yards on 30 carries while Sprecher had
50 yards on 13 carries.