Victoria West rolls again, beats Bay City for first time
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It's becoming routine. Victoria West posted its third straight victory Friday night, once again by a massive margin.
Bay City (0-3) was the victim this time.
The Warriors (3-1) used a pair of first-quarter touchdowns from junior running back Qualian Bryant to open up a lead that was never in jeopardy. Victoria West went on to win 34-12 to cap off its homecoming week in style.
West's routine the last three weeks hasn't changed: jump out to a lead, win the turnover margin and run for more than 250 yards. They led 20-0 with 8:48 remaining in the first half, were plus-3 in the turnover battle and ran for 330 yards on 48 carries.
"Defensively, we played our best ball game," said West head coach Leonard McAngus. "We bent, but we didn't break. We had a lot of goal line stands, got turnovers when we needed and I thought our kids rose to the occasion. I was proud of them."
"Offensively, we did a lot of good things, but we kind of self-destructed at times and those are the deals we have to eliminate. We haven't been doing that. I definitely thought it was a good win for us."
Bryant finished the Warriors first possession with a 5 yard touchdown run, five minutes into the game. On West's second possession, he took a handoff from Garrett Rother 38 yards for another touchdown.
West took a three touchdown lead when Rother found a wide open Malcolm Peoples for a 32 yard touchdown pass.
Then, the visiting Blackcats responded with sophomore Zavian Gartica, who was making his first start at quarterback.
After a pair of punts and a fumble inside West territory in their first three possessions, the Blackcats offense ignited midway through the second quarter.
Four plays after Peoples' touchdown gave West a three-score lead, Gartica dropped back and fired a perfect spiral to the near sideline. It hit Larry Cunningham in stride and the senior wide receiver ran away from his defender for a 69-yard touchdown.
"He did pretty well. I'm really pleased for his first start. He played with more confidence than most sophomores may have done in their first start," said Bay City football coach Dan Burk.
"I felt pretty good about that. Our biggest draw backs were we would get the ball down (in their territory) and shoot ourselves in the foot, some little simple mistake, or something that would put us in second and 15."
Bay City had the football inside the West 30 yard line four times Friday, but only scored six points. Two first half fumbles and a turnover on downs early in the third quarter might have been more devastating than the zone read option between Bryant and Rother.
Bay City's Jason Budaus intercepted Rother on the first offensive snap of the second half.
Burk's team wound up turning the ball over on downs on the ensuing drive, in part because of an untimely procedure penalty forced them into third and long at the East 28 with 7:49 left in the third quarter.
Bay City finished with 306 total yards, but they only time they converted once entering West territory was when Gartica ran for a 5 yard touchdown with 47 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Gartica was 5 for 13 for 147 yards and an interception in his first start. His rushing touchdown cut the Bay City deficit to 27-12; however, the Blackcats wouldn't get any closer.
"We can't capitalize on having something good happen yet," Burk said. "We'll get there on that. If we could have capitalized on that it puts us in pretty good position."
West went on a 61-yard drive to end the third quarter. Rother capped off the drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Armstrong with 9:44 remaining.
On third and goal, Rother pumped, thought to run for it, but found Armstrong running in front of his defender in the end zone. He threw the ball in traffic and Armstrong came down between two defenders for the insurance touchdown.
Though West had its two longest passing plays of the season Friday, the ground game has been the propellant in West's resurgence. Through four games the Warriors have run for 16 touchdowns. They had just 15 in 10 games last year.
"Garrett and I are two really good runners," Bryant said. "We work hard in practice. When we're on the field they are yelling '22! 22!' and then he pulled it, because they all went for me. They didn't' know who to go for."
Bryant finished with 145 yards and three touchdown runs. Rother had 246 total yards, 101 passing, 145 rushing, and two passing touchdowns. Rother, who was named homecoming king, had three runs of 45 or more yards Friday.
"We've become closer as a team," Bryant said. "We have mistakes, everyone makes mistakes, but we keep working hard, work through practice and get better and keep moving."