SAN ANTONIO — It’s nothing new for Nakia Watson to pound the ball, but as his carry count grew it was only a matter of time until he broke a big one.
The senior running back ran for 183 yards and three touchdowns — highlighted by a 50-yard run to seal the game in the fourth quarter — Saturday night at the Alamodome, helping Westlake beat Cibolo Steele 28-14 to get to the state semifinals for the second time in three years.
“I was getting close and I knew I had to put the game away,” Watson said. “I told myself ‘No matter what if you get hit, just keep pumping and don’t let the sidearm tackles hit you.’ We were all dead tired and we had to step outside our comfort zone to come out on top.”
Watson was the key piece of the Chaparrals’ offense, but junior quarterback Taylor Anderson was on point for most of the night as well, completing 10 of 17 passes for 180 yards and one touchdown with one interception.
Five Westlake players caught touchdowns, led by Jacob Ramos with four catches for 95 yards. Steven Crider’s only catch was a 38-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Defensively, the Chaparrals pitched a shutout in the second half and held Steele running back and Rice commit Brenden Brady to 104 yards and one touchdown, well below his 153 yards per game average.
“They want to run the ball and that’s one of the biggest offensive lines in the state of Texas,” Westlake head coach Todd Dodge said. “Our defensive front, which has been a strength of our all season long, really stepped up.”
Steele sprinted out to an early lead when Brady set up a 3-yard score with a 40-yard sprint on the second drive of the game. Westlake scored on the first play of the second quarter when Watson spun in for a touchdown.
The teams traded touchdowns later in the second quarter and went into the break tied at 14 apiece.
The Chaparrals came out in the second half and marched down the field, going 58 yards in seven plays, capped off with a 4-yard touchdown run by Watson.
Despite the dominance on offense, Westlake still made its share of mistakes. The Chaps turned the ball over four times, three times in the first half and once in the second. They also were called for a 15-yard roughing the punter penalty that gave the Knights another chance they failed to convert.
“To say that we would turn the ball over four times — and the roughing the punter is like another turnover — and to come out with a 14-point win, I wouldn’t put any money on that,” Dodge said. “We’ve been able to stay away from it all year so hopefully we got it out of our system.”
Westlake will meet Cy-Fair Saturday at 3 p.m. at NRG Stadium in Houston. The Chaparrals won the only other meeting, downing the Bobcats 41-14 in the area round of the playoffs in 1998.
There’s a tradition at Westlake that if a team is one of the last four in the state, they get a team picture on the wall at the Chaparrals’ field house. There are plenty of team photos on the wall, but this team in particular wanted to add their names to list.
“Coach Dodge always tells us we’ve got something special on this team and I can feel it,” Watson said. “We’re not quite where we need to be right now but we’ll get there. We’re not at our peak yet, we’ve just got work to get to it.”