ROUND ROCK — Will Jennings had his birthday party a day early.
One day before his birthday, the Westwood senior threw for 233 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another 39 yards and a score, helping the Warriors rout Leander 46-21 at Dragon Stadium on Thursday night.
“I sat down with my coach and he said, ‘I don’t think you had any fun last week. I don’t any of the team had fun last week,’” Jennings said. “This game is about having fun. Most of us are seniors and it could be our final year of football. We learned our assignments and played our roles.”
The Warriors collapsed in last week’s 35-21 loss to Rouse, allowing 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
Westwood head coach Anthony Wood said the loss was painful and his message to the team this week was to keep their eyes off the scoreboard.
“There are good things that you learn after losses and hopefully our guys learned that we need to take care of the little things,” he said. “We played mistake free football tonight. It was a great job by our defense to not give in. They fought hard the entire game.”
Dylan Frazier led the reviving corps with 115 yards and one touchdown. Cameron Thomas caught five passes for 41 yards and a score, while Ian Cox scored two touchdowns, both of which came on shovel passes inside the five-yard line. Jaikem Murphy carried the ball 11 times for 83 yards and one touchdown.
Dalton Flowers caught seven passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns for Leander and Riley Wells scored one touchdown on a 41-yard pass. Brennen Hansend had 65 yards on 16 rushing attempts.
Sophomore quarterback Will Loofe made his first start since junior Rashad Carter injured his hand during the first half of last week’s game against Pflugerville. He finished 14-of-24 passing for 258 yards and three touchdowns.
“Like young players do, they’re going to show flashes of being a good player,” Leander head coach Tim Smith said. “Then there were a couple throws he made that he needs to read better. He’s going to get better and he’ll improve a lot over the next five weeks.”
Westwood went 70 yards in nine plays on its first drive of the game, scoring on a three-yard plunge by Murphy.
Jennings opened the second quarter with one of the prettiest play fakes you’ll see, keeping it for a two-yard score. He kept it again to convert the two-point conversion. Jennings flipped the ball to Cox with under eight minutes in the half to extend the lead to 22 points.
Loofe hit a wide-open Flowers with a 72-yard touchdown pass on the next drive and followed that up with a 41-yard toss to Wells on the next possession.
Westwood hit a 31-yard field goal on its final possession of the half and blocked the Lions’ field goal try as time expired.
“We were excited in the locker room at halftime,” Jennings said. “We were so excited that our defense got the block. Our coach gave us the right plays in the second half and we read the defense perfectly and we executed.”
The Warriors’ picked up steam on both sides of the ball in the third quarter, as they scored on both offensive possessions and forced Leander to go three-and-out on two straight possessions.
Jennings opened the fourth quarter with his fourth touchdown pass of the game, but Leander quickly responded on the next possession. Leander senior Jake Egelsee intercepted a pass late in the game, but the Lions missed a field goal.
Leander hurt itself with penalties for most of the game. In the first half alone, they combined for eight penalties for 85 yards. On the game, they had 11 penalties for 110 yards.
Both teams have one more game before district play begins. The Warriors travel to Gupton Stadium to take on Vista Ridge next Friday night, while the Lions face off with Stony Point at Kelly Reeves Stadium next Thursday at 7 p.m.
“Our defense had a good plan, but at the bottom line is you’ve got to tackle,” Smith said. “Same thing on offense, we had a good plan, but we’ve got to block. We’re moving on and we’re looking to get better next week.”