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Westfield rallies past Mesquite Horn, advances to regional title game

Chron logo Chron 12/1/2018 Richard Dean
a group of people watching a baseball game: Ian Massey (5) of the Westfield Mustangs celebrates with his teammates after defeating Cy Ranch Mustangs in a high school playoff football game on Saturday, November 24, 2018 at Thorne Stadium in Houston Texas. © Wilf Thorne/Contributor Ian Massey (5) of the Westfield Mustangs celebrates with his teammates after defeating Cy Ranch Mustangs in a high school playoff football game on Saturday, November 24, 2018 at Thorne Stadium in Houston Texas.

HUNTSVILLE – Controlling the football was Westfield's biggest obstacle on Friday night. Mesquite Horn was a worthy opponent, but the Mustangs were beating themselves for a good portion of the Class 6A Division II Region II semifinal.

Westfield overcame three first-half lost fumbles to rally past Horn 35-16 at Bowers Stadium, outscoring the Jaguars 21-0 in the fourth quarter.

The victory sends the Mustangs to the regional championship, where they will play Saturday's winner between Longview and Vandegrift, who are both undefeated.

"We played hard the first half. We played hard the second half, but we held on to the ball. Look what happens," Westfield coach Matt Meekins said.

What happened was Westfield began holding onto the ball, turning up its defense at an even higher level, and the offense got untracked behind the running of Rayshawn James and the play of the offensive line. James, a Houston commitment, rushed for 159 yards and two scores.

The game turned in Westfield's favor when the Mustangs (12-1) converted a fourth-and-one from its 48-yard line. Ra'Quon Washington turned a quarterback sneak into a 33-yard gain that set up the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.

The Mustangs' defense was lights out all game, especially the play of linemen Chris Robinson and Nick Brown. In the second half, Westfield's defense came up with two interceptions.

"Our defense has been playing good all season," Meekins said. "We're so athletic and we got No. 33 (Dyllon Peavy) and No. 44 (Franklin Montgomery) that will strike you. It's fun to watch them."

"The defense keeps on rolling," Brown said. "We kept thinking we got to strip the ball from the quarterback."

Westfield went ahead 21-16 on James' 18-yard touchdown run with 9:30 remaining in the game. The Mustangs padded the lead with two more fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Ivory Roberts scored on a 15-yard run with 7:45 to play. Roberts' score was set up by a 37-yard interception return by Jaylen Stanford. Tardale Williams scored from 5 yards in the closing minutes.

Winners of 10 straight, Westfield's only defeat has been to state-ranked North Shore, 35-3, in week 3. A year ago, Westfield's season ended in this round with a defeat to Lufkin.

"This win means a lot to me because last year we lost in the third round," Brown said.

When the Mustangs weren't turning the ball over, they were effective moving the ball with Washington directing the offense and James picking up valuable yards. Washington passed for 103 yards.

Washington threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Ashton Callaway that put the Mustangs up 14-3 with 11:25 remaining in the second quarter.

Horn (5-8) lost its first seven games, playing a difficult schedule. Among the Jaguars' losses were to defending state champions Allen and Dallas Highland Park, as well as Cedar Hill. The Jaguars had to win each of their final three games just to make the state playoffs.

Westfield's offense couldn't stay on the field long enough in the first half. The Mustangs trailed 16-14 at the break, losing three fumbles, which led to all of Horn's first-half points. In a first half in which Horn recovered an on-side kick, Richard Garcia made three first-half field goals for the Jaguars. Two of the Mustangs' lost fumbles in the first half came on special teams.

One of the traditional powers in the Houston area, Westfield was playing in the third round of the playoffs for the 11th time in the past 15 years. In last week's area round, Westfield survived a battle with Cypress Ranch, earning a 24-17 overtime win.

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