FOOTBALL: West Henderson powers past Polk County

Published 1:45 pm Sunday, September 3, 2023

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Polk County will undoubtedly look to quickly forget Friday’s 48-6 loss at West Henderson, its second straight matchup against a 3A opponent failing to produce the same thrilling contest as in last week’s narrow home loss to Tuscola.

The Falcons (3-0) left the Wolverines (1-2) little margin for error and quickly seized upon every Polk miscue. That often produced great field possession for West, which relied on a running game that accumulated 296 yards in a dominant first half that ended in a 48-0 advantage.

The margin meant a running clock for the second half, and each team largely had just one possession in the final two quarters (Polk did get a second possession at game’s end for just one play).

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The Wolverines, though, showed resolve in returning from the dressing room at halftime and putting together an 11-play, 67-yard scoring march, ending with Lawson Carter’s 8-yard scramble for a score on a fourth-and-3 play. The extra point failed, leaving the score at 48-6 with 3:15 left in the third period.

The Falcons controlled the ball for the next 18 plays before the Wolverines held on a fourth-and-goal at the 8. The lengthy drive contrasted with most of West’s possessions in the first half; the Falcons’ longest scoring drive was seven plays, that one ending in Josh Sandoval’s field goal in the final seconds of the half.

West Henderson needed just four plays to score its first touchdown, then took advantage of a Polk fumble on its first play to add a Sandoval field goal and take a 10-0 lead with 8:45 still to go in the first quarter.

A Nolan Simpson interception stopped West’s next threat, but the Falcons used a long punt return to set up a 23-yard drive that ended in Jude Lyda’s 6-yard touchdown toss to Diego Castro.

The Falcons scored again just before the end of the quarter, then produced four second-quarter scoring drives after Polk failed to convert a fourth-and-4, fourth-and-13, punted and fumbled a kickoff. That led to West’s halftime advantage and the speedy second half.

Polk County will look to build on its second-half scoring drive, which included a pair of pass receptions each for Antonio Simpson and Keaundrae Green, as well as its red-zone stop of West Henderson at game’s end.

It’s on to Landrum.