The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

October 19, 2013

West clinches 3rd playoff berth in 4 seasons

‘Cats pile up 497 rushing yards in 47-33 win at Priceville

PRICEVILLE — Dillon Miller topped 200 yards and rushed for five touchdowns as West Limestone clinched its third playoff berth in four seasons by beating Priceville in a crucial Class 4A, Region 8 matchup.

On a damp and chilly night at Bulldog Stadium, West Limestone (6-2, 4-2) held off a pesky Priceville squad, 47-33, and spoiled homecoming. The loss prevented the Bulldogs from contending for the fourth and final playoff spot in the region.

In a wild and sometimes sloppy game with five turnovers, 12 touchdowns and 16 penalties, the Wildcats wielded an overpowering running game led by Miller’s 215 yards on 22 carries and Tucker McCormick’s two scores and 186 yards on 23 carries.

Miller’s blockers consistently opened up gaping holes at the line of scrimmage that allowed the bruising back plenty of steam to bulldoze into the Bullodogs’ secondary. He proved to be an unstoppable force in the red zone by breaking tackles on a pair of 5-yard runs and an 8-yarder in the first half, and dashing 16 and 20 yards in the second half.

Tyler Mewbourn and Logan Pugh, who had two rushing scores called back due to penalties, also helped propel West’s 497-yard, Wing-T rushing offense.

“Running the ball is what we’re best at, and we just powered the ball downfield,” said a jubilant Pugh, moments after he and his teammates sprinted to the visitor’s bleachers for a raucous celebration with the marching band and a large contingent of ‘Cats fans.

Priceville (4-4, 2-4), which intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble on defense, went to the air frequently to fuel its quick-strike offense, with quarterback Kaleb Barker and receiver Ben Patterson teaming up on touchdown connections of 71, 30 and 16 yards.

Patterson, who filled in at quarterback after Barker was shaken up on a drive midway through the third quarter, also had a 70-yard keeper by scooting around right end and picking up a downfield escort from offensive lineman Jaycee May.

Barker’s ability to throw on the run, move around in the pocket and locate downfield receivers kept the Bulldogs within striking distance, despite trailing 25-14 at halftime and by 25 points late in the third.

Barker threw for 301 yards and four TDs, including an 18-yard scoring toss to Luke Mason. He completed 19 of 30 passes, with three interceptions corralled by West’s Stevie Romero, McCormick and Pugh.

The Wildcats, which have won five straight, improved to 4-2 all-time against Priceville. West is the third team in Limestone County to qualify for the postseason. They joined Class 2A, Region 8 champion Tanner and 4A Ardmore, with Athens in the hunt for a No. 3 or No. 4 playoff seed in 5A, Region 8.

“Making the playoffs was our No. 1 goal, and it means everything to win tonight,” said Pugh, one of 10 West seniors. “We believe in what we’re doing, and we fought hard to make it back to the playoffs.”

West hosts Haleyville (7-1, 5-1) on Friday in a game that will help determine how the region’s four playoff teams — Brooks, Central-Florence, Haleyville and West — will be seeded in the playoffs.

Priceville plays at Central-Florence (6-2, 5-1) next Friday. Central, Brooks and Haleyville each have one region loss heading into Week 9.

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