West Limestone played well on both sides of the ball in the Wildcats' 44-0 first-round victory over the Hamilton Aggies. West had six rushing touchdowns on offense and forced three turnovers on defense as part of the victory in the Class 4A state playoffs.
The Wildcats set the tone on defense in the first quarter by twice stopping Hamilton on fourth down.
The first came on a Hamilton botched punt thanks to a quick West Limestone rush. The Aggies punter tried to pull the ball down and run on fourth and long when a Wildcat defender ran unchallenged towards him. The punter was stopped near the line of scrimmage, giving West possession at the Hamilton 20-yard line.
Thorne Slaton scored the first of three rushing touchdowns a few plays later from 6 yards out.
The Aggies made it down the field and had first-and-goal from the 2-yard line near the end of the opening quarter, but the West Limestone defense kept their opponent out of the end zone for four downs to force a change of possession.
“We haven't done that all year,” head coach Shelby Davis said of the goal-line stand. “I was really proud we were able to get that big stop right there. That shows our grit and toughness.”
A 5-yard run and score by Slaton, a goal line plunge by Colin Patterson and a 31-yard field goal by Maiko Bartmann put the Wildcats up 23-0 just before halftime. Dakota Wilson ended Hamilton's final drive of the half with an interception.
After the break, Slaton scored again for West, this time on a 3-yard run, with Bartmann's PAT putting the score at 30-0.
The Aggies once again drove the ball into Wildcat territory midway through the third, but an interception on a tipped pass by Tucker Weatherford ended the drive at the Wildcats' 26.
Easton Smith broke a big 49-yard touchdown run up the middle to put West up 37-0 just before the end of the period.
Smith would find the end zone again, this time from 5 yards out, with 5:35 left to play. Bartmann's point after set the score at 44-0, which would prove to be the final.
The Wildcats had a drive end on a fumble late in the quarter, but a fumble recovery by Smith a few plays later capped the defensive performance.
West Limestone (10-1) will host Good Hope (10-1), the No. 2 seed from Region 6, Friday.
“We just have to keep doing what we do,” Davis said.