The “Return To Glory ” continues for the Westlake Lions as they are region champions for the first time in nine seasons. The Lions tallied three passing , two rushing, two special teams touchdowns and a defensive touchdown in their 53-27 victory over South Cobb to win the region 3-6A title. The ” Return To Glory” slogan was represented in acronym form (RTG) on the Lions region championship shirts that were worn proudly after the victory.
Julian Jones got things started for Westlake when he blocked a punt and returned it two yards for a touchdown to give the Lions a 6-0 lead. South Cobb would take the lead briefly on a Kylil Carter to Michael Lapeyrolerie 5-yard touchdown pass one play after the Eagles recovered a Dakota Rocker fumble for a 7-6 lead. The Eagles only lead of the game lasted 14 seconds as Nigel Warrior returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown putting Westlake up for 13-7 with 28 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
From there Westlake never looked back as Rocker tossed touchdown passes to Tyshun Render and Marquez Louder in the second quarter extending the Lions lead to 27-7 which held until halftime.
Nigel Warrior returned the second half kickoff 71 yards to the South Cobb 27 and on the next play Render took an end around 27 yards for a touchdown as Westlake went up 34-7 28 seconds into the third quarter.
Defensively the Lions allowed a season-high 27 points to a South Cobb (4-5; 3-3) offense powered mainly by the legs and arm of Kylil Carter. Carter finished with 244 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions passing while rushing for 164 yards and two touchdowns. Entering the game Westlake had not allowed more than 14 points to an opponent and lead class 6A in average points-per-game allowed with 5.57. That average rose to 8.25 after South Cobb’s 27 were added to the equation. (note the 8 points allowed to Newton are not included as that game was suspended then cancelled and does not count in the standings)
Joshua Jones relieved Rocker (5-of-9 56 yards 2TD) at quarterback on the second possession of the second half and tossed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Hasaan Patterson, Ronnie Blackmon added a pick six touchdown of 22 yards and Justin Broughton added a 31-yard touchdown pass to round out the scoring for the Lions.
“Not that you want something to happen to your starter but we wanted (Jones) to get some meaningful game snaps,” Westlake head coach Bryan Love said. Jones finished 3-of-6 for 53 yards with a touchdown playing the bulk of the second half.
Nigel Warrior finished with 161 kick return yards, 28 punt return yards and returned his fourth interception of the season 30 yards. In total Warrior amassed 219 return yards.
For Westlake- a program that went 0-10 just two seasons ago, improves to 7-1; 6-0 and will conclude the regular season next week against Campbell (3-6; 1-5) before hosting a region 4-6A opponent in the first round of the state playoffs, most likely North Paulding.
Westlake is now 12-7 through 19 games under second-year head coach Bryan Love and are in the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
“We are in grind mode. It (winning the region title) hasn’t even sunk in yet…when it does I’ll still be in grind mode,” Love said.
Love along with several player dads took his team to the College Football Hall of Fame, toured Morehouse College and stayed in a hotel on Friday in an effort to continue to building a stronger bond for his team as the playoffs near.
“I told them this is what you work for and I need 6 more weeks out of them, we want to be playing on that championship weekend in December,” Love said.