The Westgate Tigers are still a team in search of an identity,
The Tigers struggled on offense for much of Friday’s District 7-5A opener against Terrebonne, killing opportunities with penalties and seeing turnovers and poor pass blocking also stop drives in a 31-8 loss. On defense, WHS limited Terrebonne to under 200 total yards, but gave up touchdown passes in third-and-25 and fourth-and-three situations.
Westgate’s most effective offensive effort came with Trevonte Williams in at quarterback at the tail end of the game and Terrebonne holding a 31-2 lead. Williams’ 23-yard touchdown run with 2:12 to go pulled WHS to within 31-8, and the Tigers recovered an onside kick and pushed the ball to the Terrebonne 17 before their final drive stalled with less than 25 seconds to go in the game.
“We went back to basics and tried to do some things, but every time we shot ourselves in the foot and it put us in a bind to where we couldn’t do those things,” said WHS coach Ryan Antoine, whose team fell to 0-4 overall and 0-1 in district. “We’ve got to find something that works. We’re still searching, still trying to find an identity on both sides of the ball.”
Antoine also said the coaches are still trying to see who can do what and where players best fit. They see some good things in practice but those don’t always translate to the games, he said.
And mistakes killed the Tigers over and over Friday night at Lloyd G. Porter Memorial Stadium. Westgate was penalized 12 times for 99 yards, including eight penalties for 64 yards in the first half when Terrebonne (2-2, 1-0) built a 21-2 lead.
One of those penalties negated a pass completion on Westgate’s first possession and led to a punt. Another put the Tigers in a hole after a nice kick return, forcing WHS to start a drive at its own 12. A third penalty negated a 33-yard run by Jamal Sam.
And quarterback Aaron Bird was frequently pressured, with Terrebonne sacking him four times and backup Bryrick Broussard once. Three pass drops didn’t help Bird’s 5-for-15 passing night. Two of those passes looked to be headed for big yardage, possibly even touchdowns.
“When you have almost the same amount of penalty yards as you have total yards on offense, you have a problem trying to win,” said WHS coach Ryan Antoine. “We were moving the ball in the first half and we shot ourselves in the foot over and over and over again. We just put ourselves in a bind and we just couldn’t recover from it.”
Terrebonne caught the breaks that went against Westgate. THS went 85 yards on the game’s opening series and got to Westgate’s 11-yard line before a couple of penalties and a stop behind the line of scrimmage by Westgate linebacker James Walker set up a third-and-25 play from the Tigers’ 26. Quarterback Colby Stewart lofted the ball just beyond the fingertips of a leaping WHS defensive back, and Cody Marcel brought the pass in for the touchdown with 7:20 to go in the opening quarter.
“Cody Marcel jumped up and played a great high point on the ball and did a real good job on that,” said Terrebonne coach Gary Hill.
Stewart completed two of his three pass attempts on the night, throwing the ball away to avoid a sack on his third attempt. That play looked like it could have been flagged for intentional grounding after Stewart ran for his life and heaved the ball away some 30 yards behind the line of scrimmage, but officials said a receiver was in the area, though none seemed to be within 20 yards of the throw.
Hill said the quick start was big for his team.
“So far this season, getting off to a good start is real important to our football team, and we did tonight, and it showed,” he said. “We were able to carry that momentum through the half.”
Westgate survived a snap over Bird’s head in punt formation. Bird scrambled and got off a kick that netted 14 yards, but the Tigers forced a fumble on Terrebonne’s first play after the kick and Bryson Broussard recovered at the THS 38. A third-down sack brought the possession to an end, but Bird punted the ball down to the Terrebonne 7.
Walker stopped running back Deshaun Diggs for a one-yard loss on the first play of Terrebonne’s ensuing possession, and a false start moved the ball back to the 3.
On second down, Diggs got the ball again, but Jaquandre Allen, Tay Thibodeaux and a swarm of teammates brought Diggs down in the end zone to make it a 7-2 score.
That was as close as Westgate would get. A 10-yard punt after the Tigers’ next possession stalled set up a 30-yard scoring drive, capped by Justin Theriot’s one-yard TD run. Westgate then fumbled the ball away at its 24 two plays after the ensuing kickoff, and Terrebonne took only five plays to reach the end zone again, this time on Stewart’s four-yard keeper to make it 21-2 following the PAT by Travis Manor.
Terrebonne rushed for 167 yards, paced by Diggs’ 88 yards on 21 carries and Stewart’s 62 yards on 16 runs.
“We were going to take what they gave us,” said Hill. “On film they played a variety of different ways against some really good teams. We knew they had some athletes.”
After a scoreless third quarter, Terrebonne tacked on a 43-yard field goal by Manor and a five-yard TD pass from Stewart to tight end John Fazzio on a fourth-down play late in the game to go ahead 31-2.
Malcolm Peter gave Westgate good field position with a 40-yard return of the kickoff, and a penalty moved the ball to the Terrebonne 43. Williams came in at quarterback on that series, keeping the ball for gains of 20 and 23 yards, the latter going into the end zone, for a quick 25-second scoring drive to make it a 31-8 game.
“He came in and did some good things for us,” said Antoine.
Westgate then executed a beautiful onside kick, with Davarion Joseph recovering Bird’s boot at the THS 49. WHS moved the ball to the 17 before a sack of Bryrick Broussard and a penalty for clipping put an end to the Tigers’ scoring chances.
Williams finished with 67 yards on only five carries, and completed his only attempt for 13 yards on the play in which Westgate was penalized for clipping. Jamal Sam led WHS with 87 yards on 14 runs despite still being a bit nicked up.
Westgate plays New Iberia on Thursday at Lloyd G Porter Stadium in the annual Bayou Berry Bowl.