#13 Zack Green and his Bulldogs roll to Class D Section III Final at the Dome!
What has become a right of passage for the Westmoreland Bulldog football team (7-2) became reality again at D’Allesandro Stadium in Utica, as the green and white rolled past a stunned group of West Canada Valley Indians to a message sending 37-20 win.
Speaking of green… senior signal caller Zack Green put his stamp on the Class D Section III semifinal early and often, as he scored two big momentum changing touchdowns, rushed for 145 yards on 22 carries and kicked 3 field goals to help propel his Dogs to a matchup with Sandy Creek next Friday night, in the Class D Section III Final, at the Carrier Dome.
Green had plenty of help from his backfield mates, Tim Harrison and Robert Heitzmann.
This three headed monster would leave the West Canada Valley faithful “Green” with envy as the #1 seed saw its perfect season end with a stunning defeat and a record of (8-1).
You had to know that this trio would play a big part in this one.
You knew for certain if you just added up the yards racked up on the ground by Green, Harrison and Heitzmann. Sounds like a law firm doesn’t it?
After last week’s semifinal romp over Port Byron (48-13) Green, Harrison and Heitzmann had rushed for 2,103 yards between them.
Green accounted for 804 yards and 14 touchdowns while averaging 7.7 yards per carry. Harrison had raced his way to 709 yards and 10 scores while averaging 7.1 yards per play.
Heitzmann, just a sophomore, had bulled his way to 590 yards of his own and 3 TD’s while rushing for 5.5 yards per carry.
Add Green’s 145 and two touchdowns to Harrison’s two short TD runs and you can see how this one got away from the Indians.
The Bulldog’s high-powered offense was just too much for the highly-touted Indians defense to handle.
Westmoreland’s backs were too quick on the turf to slow down the option attack. Westmoreland only punted once all night and piled up 14 first downs.
This one was hyped to the max and rightly so, as the Class D East Champs tangled with the Bulldogs, who despite two losses this season, seem to know when the chips are on the table.
Hyped because both teams entered action state ranked. West Canada Valley was ranked 5th and Westmoreland 14th. The game lived up to all of the hype.
Westmoreland loves the bright lights of Friday Night Lights football.
So much so that the Bulldogs head to Syracuse looking for their fourth Section III crown in the last five years.
The early going saw both teams act like they belonged on the big stage at D’Allesandro.
West Canada Valley took advantage of an early Bulldog fumble and went right at the Dogs for six quick points.
Zack Green could not handle a hot snap and John Joslin pounced on the loose ball to set his offense up with great field position, deep in Westmoreland territory.
A short time later, the duo of the Ryans… QB Ryan Moody and WR Ryan Grogan hooked up to combine on a 26 yard scoring pass to put the Indians up 6-0 with 8:30 to go in the opening quarter. The P.A.T kick put the state’s fifth ranked team up 7-0.
Westmoreland seemed unfazed by the scoring drive and actually seemed annoyed about surrendering points.
A great kickoff return by Tim Harrison put the Dogs in business at their own 42 yard line.
To add insult to injury, Harrison turned on the after burners and beat the Indians defense to the edge and into the end zone from 5 yards out to tie things up, after Green booted the extra point through, with 5:58 left in the opening twelve minutes of play.
The tying TD seemed to instill a shot of confidence in the Bulldogs and from there they were off to the races.
Zack Green got into the act as he dialed up his own number and raced 32 yards up the gut to score. With 2:21 left in the first it was 14-0 Westmo.
Coach Gates’ guys kept the pressure on when Green scored again, this time on a 9 yard run, with 9:46 left until halftime, as Westmoreland led 21-7.
Good teams don’t quit and West Canada Valley is a good team. A lightning bolt TD toss of 63 yards from Ryan Moody to, you guessed it, Ryan Grogan got the Indians right back in it.
Grogan used a great burst of speed to get behind double coverage and then sped to the end zone, as the Indians trailed 21-14 with 8:12 left in the opening half.
With just :11 seconds left in second quarter, Zack Green kicked the first of three field goals through the uprights to tack on a big three points to make it a ten point Bulldog lead at the half 24-14.
Despite being down just ten, West Canada Valley was outplayed in the opening 24 minutes of action.
Numbers don’t lie. Westmoreland ran 34 plays on offense to just 13 for West Canada and was outgained 241 yards to 139.
A fumble recovery by Westmoreland’s Tyler Taverene helped set his team up for another three points, as Green nailed one from 31 yards out to up the ante to 27-14.
Special teams came up big for Westmo, as a blocked punt set up score that put this one on ice. Another five yard touchdown run by Tim Harrison made it mission impossible for West Canada as they now trailed 34-14 with 6:04 left in the third quarter.
Speaking of the a fore mentioned special teams. Tim Harrison ripped off a pretty looking punt return of 59 yards to set up another short field for his offense to navigate.
Navigate the Dogs did, as Zack Green ended the ensuing drive with his third field goal of the night, this one from 23 yards out to put Westmoreland up 37-14.
Ryan Moody put the final points on the board as he scored the third West Canada touchdown of the game on a 23 yard run.
Final score, Westmoreland 37, West Canada Valley 20. Not the way coach Mike Moody and company had drawn this one up, but the Dogs came to play.
The Indians were also hard pressed to move the ball against the Bulldog D because of the limited action seen by star running back Jack Minasi, who gave it a go on a bum ankle.
Minasi could not shift into high gear as the high ankle sprain slowed this down. Minasi had a great season having entered action rushing for 1,195 yards and 18 touchdowns. Who knows what would have happened if Jack was 100 per cent?
Westmoreland had a quartet of defenders who had great nights. Joe LaLonde, Devon Tophoven and captain Tyler Crandall all had 6 solo tackles while Rob Heitzmann added five of his own.
Westmoreland 37 West Canada Valley 20
1 2 3 4 Total
Westmoreland 14 10 10 3 37
West Canada 7 7 0 6 20