West Limestone may have clinched the Class 4A, Region 8 title and a playoff spot prior to Friday night, but the Wildcats had one last test before heading into the postseason that took the form of county foe Ardmore. The Tigers came out firing and even “threw the kitchen sink” at the Wildcats according to West head coach Shelby Davis, but in the end the Wildcats came out on top 47-28 thanks to a solid offensive performance.
“Defensively we didn't play very well, but that had a lot to do with what they were doing,” Davis said. “I was proud of the guys for not panicking — they just kept playing all night.”
Ardmore led 14-7 with 4:15 left to go in the opening quarter thanks to a 3-yard touchdown run by Thomas Colston and a 16-yard run and score by Chris Allen, with the Wildcats points coming on a touchdown reception by River Helms. However, a five-yard touchdown run by West Limestone's Thorne Slaton followed by a point after by Maiko Bartmann evened the contest at 14-14 near the end of the period.
“They went down and scored,” Davis said. “There have only been two games all year the other team hasn't gone down the field and scored first. Our guys don't panic. They just keep playing. We got it back, and we answered.”
The Wildcats would take a lead they would not relinquish with 7:21 remaining before halftime when Colin Patterson scrambled left from the pocket, cut back the opposite way, got a block from a teammate and finally heaved a bomb to Christian Smith who caught the pass behind the Ardmore defense and raced the rest of the way for a 76-yard touchdown.
West would extend its lead four minutes later when Jonah Smith punched the ball into the end zone at the goal line. A blocked PAT by Ardmore left the score 27-14.
The Wildcats would score again just over three minutes into the third quarter when Patterson connected with Helms on a 5-yard pass. This time Bartmann's point after attempt sailed through the uprights, making the score 34-14.
Just over a minute later Ardmore ended its scoring drought when Conner Harbin capped a drive with a 15-yard touchdown run. Xzander Atkins hit the PAT, which cut the Wildcats' lead to 34-21.
The Tigers went for a surprise onside kick after the score. The kick seemed to barely leave the tee, with Ardmore players merely walking alongside while West Limestone defenders watched in indifference and waited on what they felt would be a penalty as the ball slowly rolled across the field.
But the ball kept on rolling, and a yell from the Tigers' sideline bid the players to jump on the ball. The officials initially ruled the ball did not travel the necessary yards and threw a penalty flag, but after a short conference the decision was reversed and Ardmore regained possession near midfield.
The Tigers would end up failing to capitalize on the possession though, as an interception by Cooper Phillips at the Wildcats' own 28-yard line would end Ardmore's drive. Phillips managed to return the pick to the Tigers' 46 before being brought down.
West would also fail to convert the turnover into points, with the next score coming on a 4-yard run by Allen that would bring Ardmore to within one score at 34-28 at the end of the third quarter.
The Wildcats drove the field on their next possession, which was capped off by a 11-yard touchdown pass from Patterson to Helms. An Ardmore defender was called for pass interference on the play after, but Helms caught the pass over him anyway for the score. After a failed conversion West led 40-28 with 9:05 left to play.
Helms would add an interception to his performance later in the quarter before Slaton notched the final points of the contest on a 4-yard touchdown run.
West Limestone finishes the regular season 9-1 overall on top of a 7-0 region performance. The Wildcats will host Hamilton (5-5) in the opening round of the AHSAA state playoffs next week.
“Now it gets real,” Davis said. “It's a one-game season each week. We'll take them one at a time, and I know these guys are ready to go.”
Ardmore finishes its 2020 campaign with an overall record of 5-5.