HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

McNeil outlasts late push to topple Westwood

The Warriors missed the potential game-tying field goal as time expired

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With nothing but waiting to do on the sideline, McNeil head coach Howard McMahan was nervous, and rightfully so.

Late in the fourth quarter, with his Mavericks clinging to a 32-29 lead, Westwood’s Jack Elliot lined up to kick a 44-yard field goal to tie the game and force overtime. 

The kicked flew wide right and the McNeil sideline erupted. 

The Mavs held on to beat Westwood 32-29 at Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex on Friday night.

“When the ball was kicked and went wide, I mean, there was so much excitement from these kids,” McMahan said. “Both teams fought their hearts out and battled, and I thought in that last (Westwood) drive, we showed a lot of character in forcing a long kick.”

McNeil improved to 3-2 on the season, with a 2-1 district record. Westwood fell to 3-3 and 1-3 in District 13-6A play of 1-3. 

“We’re going to enjoy this one for a while,” McMahon said.

Westwood trailed 25-14 in the final nine minutes before a calamity of scoring broke the game wide open. The Warriors scored a read option play on 4th and 1 from the McNeil 13 as Nate Anderson trotted home, then converted a two-point attempt to cut the lead to three.

The Warriors would eventually take the lead on their next possession, as Mario Debs rushed for his second of two touchdowns in a draw right down the middle of the field.

McNeil quarterback Zane Kampfer (17-of-22, 296 yards, two touchdowns) then found wide receiver Jordan Kerley (four catches, 117 yards) with a 24-yard slant strike, followed up by a 27-yard Winston Hutchison rushing touchdown.

“We made big plays when we had to, and any time your kids step up and make big plays like that, you’re gonna have a chance to win some big ball games,” McMahan said. 

McNeil opened the scoring with a 30-yard field goal from Zach Dickinson and the Mavs added to their lead with a safety in the second quarter. 

Kampfer scored on a short sneak in the second quarter, but Westwood rnning back Mario Debs scored on a 24-yard rush on the next drive. 

The Mavericks scored once more on a 47-yard run from Hutchinson. The Warriors answered in the second half with a 16-play, 69-yard drive with Lynden Jones punching the ball in from three yards out.

Defensively, Westwood defensive back Darrian DeBerry finished the game with a pair of interceptions. 

Westwood takes a week off after Friday’s loss and hosts Vandegrift at Kelly Reeves on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m., while McNeil travels to Monroe Stadium to face the Vipers in their next game on Oct. 12.

Westwood was six-for-six on fourth-down tries in Friday’s loss, and McMahon pointed to his team’s mental resolve in spite of that as a big reason for the win. 

“When you’re facing a well-coached team, they know what they’re going to do and how to do it,” he said. “All I tell our guys is ‘You get back in the huddle and keep fighting, good things are going to happen.’”

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