By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
It took a while, but Hillgrove woke up.
The Hawks shook off a shaky first half offensive performance, and rolled to 31 points in the second to put away a game Westlake squad, 31-15. The Hillgrove win spoiled the debut of Westlake head coach Stanley Pritchett, who left North Atlanta last spring to take over the Lion’s program last spring.
“It was just jitters, and we didn’t have that ball a lot – only three possessions I think,” said Phillip Ironside. “I told them it’s a long second half. Settle down. We’re going to score. Let the game come to you, and we did that.”
Westlake led 7-0 at the half, after scoring on their second possession of the game. The Lions took advantage of a short field after their defense throttled Hillgrove’s first offensive possession. Westlake took over on the Hillgrove 34 yard line, and two plays later, quarterback Renard Battle hit Kaleb Green in the right front corner of the end zone to give the Lions the lead.
The Hawks managed just 86 yards in the first half, as the Westlake offense kept the Hillgrove offense off the field.
“A lot of [Hillgrove’s offensive struggles] was a credit to them,” Ironside said. “Westlake has a good team and they’re doing things right and headed in the right direction.”
Hillgrove wasted little time in getting its offense on track in the third quarter. After the Westlake kickoff sailed out of bounds, the Hawks took possession on their 40 yard line. On the first play, quarterback Troy Thompson hit running back Richardre Bagley in the left flat, and the junior did the rest, slipping a tackle and bolting 60 yards down the sideline to knot the score at 7.
A 38-yard field goal by Andrew Gaughn put Hillgrove on top for good, 10-7, with five minutes left in the third quarter. Westlake went three-and-out on its next possession, and junior Errol Breaux returned the ensuing punt 27 yards to the Westlake 28 yard line. On the second play of the drive, Thompson hit Omar Black along the far sideline, and Black broke a tackle, cut back across the field and danced into the end zone to push the Hawk lead to 17-7.
Hillgrove put the game away for good on it’s first possession of the fourth quarter, driving 76 yards in just seven plays. Bagley took a short dump pass from Thompson and skipped in from four yards out to make the score 24-7.
Thompson finished the game 16-of-23 passing for 274 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
For Westlake, sophomore running back Jorden Thomas was the games leading rusher with 113 yards on 18 carries. Battle connected on 12-of-24 passing attempts for 168 yards and an interception.
Hillgrove 0 0 17 14 31
Westlake 7 0 0 8 15
W – Kaleb Green 33 pass from Renard Battle (DeAndre Mathis kick)
H – Richardre Bagley 60 pass from Troy Thompson (Andrew Gaughn kick)
H – Gaughn 38 fg
H – Omar Black 25 pass from Thompson (Gaughn kick)
H – Bagley 4 pass from Thompson (Gaughn kick)
W – Eric Hines 25 pass from Battle (Battle run)
H – Zach Katz 48 pass from Thompson (Gauhn kick)