By Kim West
After an electrifying 90-yard kickoff return from Clements’ Carson Cook, the highlights belonged to the home team Friday night as Class 4A West Limestone surged past the 3A Colts for a 44-6 season-opening win in front of a raucous and overflowing crowd at James Kennemer Stadium.
The lopsided result, which spoiled the debut of first-year Clements coach Dan Beavers, was a far cry from the quadruple-overtime, 54-53 victory by West in last year’s meeting between the fierce county rivals..
The Wildcats used an overpowering offensive line to open lanes as seven ball carriers for West accumulated 324 rushing yards. Dillon Miller finished with 157 yards on 21 carries and one touchdown, and Logan Pugh added 70 yards on 10 carries and two TDs.
“This was a big win for us because we were underestimated coming into this game,” said wide receiver/defensive back Stevie Romero, one of 10 seniors on the West roster. “We wanted to show people what we’re about because we have a strong group of seniors. This team has big potential, and we want to get to the playoffs.”
West forced three turnovers — Romero and Tyler Mewbourn each picked off Clements passes — and put together a defensive performance that ‘Cats coach David Arnsparger ranked as the program’s best in five years.
“Clements did everything they could to win the ball game. They ran back the opening kickoff but then our defense blocked the extra point,” Arnsparger said. “This is the best defense that West Limestone has played as a team since 2008 when we beat Colbert County. And offensively, we did what we wanted to do.”
West — which scored six times and converted four 2-point conversions on runs by Miller — responded from the 6-0 deficit with a methodical 14-play drive that was capped by Pugh’s 8-yard run up the middle to put the Wildcats ahead 8-6.
After forcing a Clements punt, West took 72 seconds to score again when Drew Blakely connected on a 49-yard TD pass to Matthew Reyer. The Wildcats led 22-6 at halftime on Pugh’s 5-yard reverse run early in the second quarter.
In the third quarter, Blakely play-faked, rolled right and found Romero roaming behind the secondary for a 39-yard TD on fourth-and-6. On the next West drive, Miller took a handoff, darted left and zipped down the sideline for a 52-yard scamper to lead 36-6.
Less than 60 seconds into the fourth, West’s Preston Moss recovered a Clements fumble at the Colts’ 6, and Nick Freeman dove in from the 1-yard line for the 44-6 final score.
“The kickoff return was a great start for us but then they answered and went on a long drive. We stalled on their 4-yard line on our second drive, and then the next drive we turned it over,” said Clements offensive coordinator Zach Meadows. “Our kids played hard the whole time against a very experienced and very physical bunch. There is plenty to fix, and we have the kids that can do that.”
West Limestone travels to Brooks, while West Morgan hosts Clements in the first week of region play on Sept. 6.