By Amanda Ernst
CINCINNATI – Withrow and Western Hills were unbeaten in conference play entering Friday, but the Tigers managed to lock in their conference championship by defeating the Mustangs, 38-0 at Stargel Stadium.
"This win feels real good,” Withrow coach Jim Place said. “We won the league tonight and played hard.”
Entering the game, both teams were 4-0 in the Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference. Although Withrow held the better overall record of 6-1, Western Hills was quickly climbing up in the polls at 4-3.
Withrow proved to be the stronger team and executed its game in its usual style, starting its offense with a run to open up the passing game, and then ending the game on the ground.
In the first quarter of the game, the Tigers got three straight first downs which paved the way for Tra'von Barnes to score a 29-yard touchdown to make it 7-0.
With yard lossage, incomplete passes and being forced to punt, Western Hills was unable to sustain a drive in the first quarter.
Withrow exploded with power and intensity in its 17-point second quarter – its most effective quarter.
Aaron Harris set his team up for first and goal by running the ball to the 2 yard line. Struggling to get the ball into the end zone, the Tigers end up going for it on fourth and goal, and Doryan Beach ran it in for a touchdown making the score 13-0.
Withrow set up in field goal position after the touchdown but faked the kick and Landon-Brown Jackson ran the ball in for the two-point conversion bringing the score up to 15-0.
The Mustangs continued to struggle against the Tigers defense. Western Hills’ Dontay Jackson exploded down the field in a 66-yard run, but the Mustangs were unable to do anything with the burst of momentum.
In Withrow's next set, the Mustangs kept Withrow out of the end zone but Niyubahwe Dieudonne’s 38-yard kick inched its way over the crossbar to extend the lead to 18.
After a Mustangs’ punt, Withrow drove down the field and with 1:30 left in the half, Braxton Combs scored a 31-yard touchdown to make it 24-0.
Coming out of halftime, Western Hills started with the ball and succeeded in squeezing in two first downs in a row but were eventually forced to punt, setting Withrow up for yet another TD.
In Withrow's possession, quarterback Malik Bland shovel passed to Justice Peyton, and he ran the ball in for a 44-yard touchdown giving the Tigers a 31-0 lead.
With three minutes left in the game, the Tigers’ Percy Roberts picked off a pass and was easily able to score to open up a 38-0 lead.
Place said his team needs to try to emulate this performance to remain successful the remainder of the season.
“We will focus on the fundamentals more than anything,” Place said. “We also need to stick together as a family.”
Friday’s game brought Withrow's record to 5-0 in the CMAC and 7-1 overall, while Western Hills dropped to 4-1 in the conference and evens out its overall record at 4-4.
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