Westgate and St. Thomas More both entered Friday’s District 5-4A opener with 4-1 records, but that’s where the similarities appeared to end.
STM was ranked no. 1 in Class 4A and seeded first in the Division II power rankings.
The Tigers, meanwhile, weren’t one of the 17 schools to receive votes in the 4A rankings and, if the playoffs would have started last week, would have been on the road as a No. 19 seed.
On top of that, STM had throttled the Tigers 71-20 last year in a game also played at WHS.
Undaunted, the Tigers beat the Cougars for the first time ever behind inspiring performances from numerous players.
For starters, there was senior kicker Connor Scott, who aced a 27-yard field goal with 2:07 remaining to lift WHS (5-1, 1-0) to the 24-21 win.
“I love what Connor did,” said WHS head coach Ryan Antoine. “Making that field goal at the end of the game, that was a big weapon for us.”
Then there was senior safety Keydrain Calligan, whose interception of STM quarterback Caleb Holstein preceded Scott’s heroics.
“That’s just Keydrain staying in the moment,” Antoine said. “A couple of drives before that, he gave up some big plays. He just stayed with it, and we just stayed with him.
“We told him the ball was going to come. He was trying to press, but we told him to trust his coaching, stay with his teammates, and he did that.”
Entering the game, Holstein led the state in passing with 337 yards per gain, but he was held to just over 200 yards by Calligan and the WHS secondary.
“All game, I could have had an interception but I was thinking too much,” Calligan said. “My time came, and I came up and I handled it. It felt marvelous.”
Westgate scored first on a four-yard run by 6-foot-4, 190-pound sophomore Danny Lewis, who entered the game at the Wildcat position after quarterback Brennon Landry directed the drive deep into STM territory.
Much later, on the game-winning drive, Lewis ran for a first down on fourth-and-two from the STM 20 to set up Scott for a chip-shot. He also caught a pass from Landry, who was 26 of 38 for 195 yards and a touchdown.
“Danny’s tough. That was a big first down he made, and that was a big touchdown he had earlier,” Antoine said. “He’s becoming a weapon, a tough sophomore who is just looking for a chance.
“We have kids who just want a chance to play and a chance at life, and Danny is doing a great job of that.”
At the start of the third quarter, junior Kevion Sophus fielded the kickoff at the 2 and returned it to the 37-yard line to give WHS, which held a 7-6 lead, a burst of momentum.
The Tigers then proceeded to score on a nine-yard pass from Landry to Makholven Sonn, who led all receivers with nine catches for just under 100 yards.
“We knew we were the underdogs coming in but had it in our heads to where we knew what we had to do to get it popping,” Sonn said.
After the Cougars (4-2, 0-1) knotted the score at 14-14, a 17-yard jaunt around the right end by Kayshon Boutte put the Tigers back on top by seven.
“Like Makholven said, we were underrated,” Boutte said. “We were sitting at the no. 19 seed and playing the top team in the state. We knew it was a big game and was going to be a tough game, but we managed to stay together, play together, maintain and get the W.”
Boutte and Sophus combined for 175 all-purpose yards, and the Westgate offensive line gave Landry plenty of time to stand in the pocket and pick out open targets.
Next Friday, Lakeshore visits Westgate. The Titans (6-0) were ranked No. 2 behind STM last week and will likely be No. 1 when they visit the Tigers.