Clover came into its season-opener with Westside looking to keep the ball on the ground and the clock in its favor. The Blue Eagles never got that chance, as the Rams cruised to a 40-0 win at Memorial Stadium.
“I thought the key to this ball game was taking that first drive down the field,” said Westside coach Scott Earley. “Anytime you can take an offense like that and make them chase points, you’ve got a distinct advantage.”
That first drive, culminating in a three-yard run by Rams quarterback Jackson Williamson, was one of four touchdowns the Rams scored on their first four drives of the night.
The Rams locked down the Blue Eagles on offense from there, putting two additional scores on the board in the third quarter to provide the final tally. Clover struggled all evening to establish any rhythm against Westside from the opening whistle.
“They just played faster than we did, I mean, overall,” said Clover coach Chad Smith. “It wasn’t a scheme thing, it wasn’t anything else. They just played harder and they played faster.”
After the game, Smith told a story to his team of a similar situation in his first year of coaching. That team suffered a tough first loss, but rebounded to finish strong and make the playoffs. Smith remained upbeat after the game, despite the result.
“I can promise the Clover faithful one thing. They won’t see this type of effort again.”
Westside was penalized on consecutive plays on its second drive, leading to a 2nd-and-26 play. Williamson lobbed a 49-yard touchdown score to Dreik Thomas, putting Westside ahead 14-0 and quickly putting a halt to the momentum gained by the Blue Eagles’ defense.
“We’re just blessed to have a quarterback that can (make that throw),” said Earley. “That was his check and his call, and that was a big-time play.”
Clover did not record an official first down in the contest. A Cody Payne rushing first down was called back due to a penalty.
Williamson completed 15 of his first 16 passes, finishing 21-for-23 for 283 yards with three touchdown passes and a rushing score.
Receivers Dreik Thomas and Antonio Lomax were the beneficiaries of Williamson’s great day, hauling in 11 combined passes for 195 yards. Thomas caught two of Williamson’s touchdown scores.
Smith gave Westside credit for their effort from the opening whistle.
“That’s just a good football team. Westside’s a good football team. We knew going in that was a high-powered offense. I thought were were going to be able to move the ball better than we did, but give Scott Earley and his staff credit. They shut us down. They came in here and completely dominated this game.”
Clover hosts Forestview (N.C.) on Friday, while Westside travels to Lexington.
Westside 40, Clover 0
WHS – Jackson Williamson 3 run (Chance Poore kick) 8:48
WHS – Williamson 49 pass to Dreik Thomas (Poore kick) 5:57
WHS – Quinn Wright 9 run (kick failed) 3:00
WHS – Williamson 29 pass to Thomas (conversion failed) 10:33
WHS – Williamson 33 pass to Matthew Martin (Poore kick) 4:16
WHS - Wright 10 run (Poore kick) 0:00
RUSHING Westside: Quinn Wright 18-113, Jackson Williamson 9-25, Jyston Kendrick 6-14, Eb Jones 13-80. Clover: Tanner Tolson 4-4, Cody Payne 12-16, Willy Clark 5-5, Tenchi Her 1-1, Noah Lindsay 5-1, Terry Hickman 2-(-3).
PASSING Westside: Williamson 21-23-3-0, 281 yards; Wright 1-1-0-0, 9 yards; Kendrick 0-1-0-0, 0 yards.. Clover: Lindsay 0-4-0-0, 0 yards.
RECEIVING Westside: Antonio Lomax 6-85; Matthew Martin 4-63; Kendrick 6-29; Dreik Thomas 5-110, Tyler Fuller 1-2. Clover: Josh Wilkes 5-116; Nick McCloud 1-9; Deshawn Davis 2-2; Quay Brown 2-31.
RECORDS Westside 1-0; Clover 0-1