Trailing 10-9 at the half the No. 1 ranked Cedar Grove Saints defense completely shut down the Westminster Wildcats offense as they rallied for a 24-10 Region 5-3A victory at Godfrey Stadium on Thursday night.
Cedar Grove (5-0, 4-0) turned up the heat on defense in the second half holding the Wildcats (4-3, 2-3) to minus-1 yards over the final two quarters on 13 plays (3 possessions). Westminster’s biggest play of the second half was a seven-yard run on the final play of the game.
The Saints offense opened the second half with the football and put together a 13-play, 65-yard drive to take the lead at for good at 12-10 on a 32-yard field goal by Luis Dominguez when the drive stalled at the Westminster 15. A 28-yard touchdown pass play from Austin Smith to Sam Pittman was called back on a holding penalty late in the drive.
Westminster went three-plays and out on its first possession of the second half and the Saints needed just six plays to go 62 yards to add to their lead. Austin Smith was 4-4 passing for 45 yards including a 12-yard touchdown pass play to Ricky Lee. Lee caught the ball over the middle and steamrolled a Wildcat defender at the three-yard line on the way into the end zone. The PAT was no good and the Saints were up 18-10 with 2:12 left in the third quarter.
Cedar Grove’s defense again forced a three-and-out to give the offense the football on their own 32 as the third period was coming to close. Smith ended the 68-yard drive nine plays later as he threw to Bernard Mack on a wide receiver screen. Mack turned up field, juked a Wildcat defender and raced into the end zone from 12 yards out to make it 24-10 with 9:01 to play in the game.
Westminster would get three possessions in the final quarter, the first two going for a minus-7 yards in two three-play possessions.
Cedar Grove only allowed 41 yards of offense to the Wildcats in the first half, but still trailed at the half due to a fumble recovered by Wilson Ide that gave the Wildcats the ball at the Saints 21 with 5:58 to play in the first quarter.
A pass interference call on the Saints on Westminster’s first play set the Wildcats up at the Cedar Grove 11-yard line. Two plays later Robert Clarke scored on a six-yard touchdown run to give the upset minded Wildcats a 7-0 lead with 5:01 remaining in the first quarter as Alex Bacchetta hit the PAT.
The Saints pulled within 7-6 with 7:07 left in the first half on an 18-yard pass from Smith to a wide-open Mack at the goal line for an 18-yard touchdown scoring toss. The try for two failed as the Wildcats defense stuffed the quarterback sneak up the middle.
Another three-out forced by the Saints defense got Cedar Grove the ball back at its own 40 with 5:24 to go in the first half. Smith connected with Mack for a 45-yard gain down to the Westminster 15 to get the drive moving.
A holding call and two incomplete passes later brought Dominguez onto the field. He connected from 31 yards out to push the Saints into the lead at 9-7 with 3:27 left on the first half clock.
Westminster converted a big third and five play to keep possession of the football as Wyatt Stevenson connected with Holden Staes for a 23-yard gain to the Saints 33. Another pass interference penalty had Westminster knocking on the door as the clock ticked towards the one-minute mark.
Cedar Grove’s defense held and Bacchetta kicked a 29-yard field goal as the half ran out to give Westminster a 10-9 halftime lead.
Westminster finished the game with just seven first downs (2 via pass interference penalties against Cedar Grove) in the first half. The Saints defense gave up just 40-yards of total offense to the Wildcats while racking up 398 yards of offense on their own.
Austin Smith finished the night hitting 18 of 28 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns in the game to move him within 41 yards of 4,000 career passing yards. Sophomore Bernard Mack hauled in six receptions for 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns and sophomore Ricky Lee snagged five catches for 62 yards and touchdown.
The Saints travel to Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta next Friday (Nov. 13) for an 8:00 pm kickoff against Douglass in another Region 5-3A matchup.
DCSD FOOTBALL SCHEDULE – WEEK 6
South Atlanta (4-3, 4-0) vs. McNair (0-5, 0-5), 7:00 pm (Cancelled)
Cedar Grove (5-0, 4-0) 24, Westminster (4-3, 2-3) 10
Lithonia (1-4, 1-3) vs. Stone Mountain (1-4, 0-4), 7:30 pm
Pace Academy (4-2, 3-1) vs. Towers (1-3, 1-3), 7:30 pm
St. Pius X (5-1, 3-0) vs. M.L. King (1-4, 1-2), 7:30 pm
Douglass (0-7, 0-5) vs. Redan (2-3, 0-3), 5:15 pm (Cancelled)
Lovett (5-2, 5-1) vs. Columbia (3-1, 3-1), 8:00 pm
NORTH DEKALB STADIUM
Liberty Co. (1-2-1) vs. Chamblee (3-1), 6:00 pm
Arabia Mountain (2-3, 2-2) vs. Hapeville Charter (2-3, 2-1), 7:30 pm (Banneker)
Dunwoody (0-5, 0-3) at Berkmar (1-6, 0-4), 7:30 pm
Miller Grove (2-3, 1-2) vs. Mays (3-5, 1-3), 8:00 pm (Lakewood)
Stephenson (4-0, 3-0) at Marist (5-0, 3-0), 7:30 pm
Tucker (2-2, 1-1) vs. Morrow (1-4, 0-2), 7:30 pm (Tara)
Lakeside (0-5) vs. Washington (5-2), 4:00 pm (Lakewood)
OPEN: Cross Keys (1-2) Redan (2-3, 0-3), SW DeKalb (3-2, 3-1),
SEASONS OVER: Clarkston (0-0), Druid Hills (0-3), McNair (0-5)
Source: DCSD Athletics