Story and photos by ANDREW DYRDAL
Webb School of Knoxville poured on 467 yards of offense, including 360 rushing yards, in a 27-9 win at Battle Ground Academy on Friday.
Elijah Howard, an eighth-grader who already holds a scholarship offer from Tennessee, recorded 161 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns for Webb.
Drew Martin led BGA in passing, going 20-for-32 for 194 yards and a touchdown. He also led the team in rushing with 47 yards.
Joseph Pasley was the team’s leading receiver with five receptions for 70 yards.
“I don’t think we were mentally focused in the first half,” BGA head coach Roc Batten said. “We had some opportunities and did not take advantage of them. I’m not taking anything away from Knoxville Webb, they’re a good football team, but we had some opportunities in the first half and didn’t capitalize on them – and you can’t do that against a really good football team.”
BGA and Webb each relied heavily on the run game to start, passing on just five of the game’s first 55 plays, including three times on Wildcats’ first drive. BGA punted on its first two possessions and Webb did on its first before it found the end zone.
Webb used five different ball carriers on a nine-play, 71-yard drive to go ahead 7-0 late in the first quarter. On second-and-6 from the 9-yard line, Howard ran all the way to BGA’s sideline before turning back and breaking multiple tackles en route to the end zone on the other side of the field.
BGA answered with a 10-play drive of its own and set up for first-and-goal from the 7. However, three negative plays resulted in a 35-yard field goal. BGA surprised Webb by recovering an onside kick, but threw an interception three plays later.
Webb – committed to running the football – rushed eight straight times on its next possession, never gaining fewer than four yards, and settled for a 31-yard field goal to go ahead 10-3 midway through the second quarter.
After forcing a three-and-out with 90 seconds to halftime, Webb began throwing the ball, completing passes of 17, 23, and four yards before Jahil Jefferson scored on a 13-yard run 23 seconds before the break. Webb moved the ball 64 yards in a minute and led 17-3 at halftime.
A 47-yard catch and run by Howard set up another Webb field goal to open the second half and extend BGA’s deficit to 20-3. Howard – after running for 35 yards on two carries during drive – caught a 15-yard touchdown to put Webb ahead 27-3.
BGA finally got its passing game going midway through the fourth quarter, as Martin completed 6 of 11 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown on the final drive to pull within 27-9 after a missed two-point conversion.
Martin connected with Oliver Reese, who extended his arms above his head and dragged his feet in the back of the end zone for the score.
Batten said the team had a better tempo on its touchdown-scoring drive.
“Guys started making the right reads and catching the ball,” he said. “It goes back to what I was saying – we can’t have the mental lapses we had in the first half. The same things we had open on [this] drive, we had open throughout the game and we just missed them.”
A failed onside kick gave Webb the ball with 4:35 remaining. Webb was able to run out the clock with seven carries and a kneel.