By Will Willems Sports Editor
Zionsville Times Sentinel
---- — Westfield — The Westfield Shamrocks and Zionsville Eagles staged a defensive battle Friday night in Westfield in a steady, light drizzle.
In the end the Shamrocks made a couple more big plays and held off the Eagles 10-7.
“We had a big turnover in the first half that set them up perfectly,” Zionsville head coach Larry McWhorter said. “We had a nice defensive stand to hold them to a field goal, but that was the difference. The owned us all night with their defense. They did pretty much what they wanted too and had some big plays. We were not up to their standards.”
The yardage totally vs. virtually even between the two teams, with Westfield holding the ever so slight 222-215 advantage.
But as has been the problem throughout the season, the Eagles couldn’t score enough points.
“We brought in several defensive players to help out on offense this week,” McWhorter said. “That is costly because now you have regressed because they haven’t been playing it all year. When you get into pressure situations, they don’t know everything because they haven’t had the reps. A little more time will make that a little bit better.”
Neither team did anything in the first quarter, and the Shamrocks punted early in the second quarter and pinned the Eagles on their own 12.
After two runs lost a yard, the Eagles tried another run on third-and-long, but fumbled the ball. Westfield recovered at the 11 yard line.
The Eagles defense held strong, but Westfield’s Nick Dowd made a 21-yard field goal to give the Shamrocks a 3-0 lead they would carry into the half.
The defenses continued to dominate in the third quarter, with the two teams combining for just 75 yards on five possessions.
After Zionsville punted on the opening possession of the fourth quarter, Westfield mounted their clinching scoring drive.
Starting from the Zionsville 45, the Shamrocks needed just six plays to score on a 2-yard run by Elvin Caldwell. The key play of the drive was a third-and-12 from the 40, when quarterback Nick Ferrer found Ben Lotfalian for a 25-yard gain.
As well as the defense played all game, McWhorter said they had some miscues at inopportune times.
“We had a little let down there at the end and that was an absolute killer,” McWhorter said. “They exploited a few things in the last drive. That was a heart breaker.”
Zionsville got themselves back in the game on the next drive.
A Cole Wendt 40-yard run on the third play of the ensuing drive got the ball down into Westfield territory. After a 14-yard Wendt gain on the next play, Zionsville went into its bag of tricks, using a halfback pass from Ben Kocher to Nick Maines to get down to the Shamrock 5.
Two plays later Wendt scored to make it 10-7.
“That was great, but we can’t wait that long to score in this league,” McWhorter said. “They owned us, particularly on first downs. I bet we had negative yards on first down.”
Zionsville forced a three-and-out on Westfield’s next possession and got the ball back on their own 33 with 2:24 left.
The Eagles had a positive play on first down, gaining nine yards on a pass from Josh Hinkle to Maines, but after a run for no gain and a fumbled snap, the Eagles faced fourth-and-7 with just under a minute left.
Hinkle’s pass to Kocher was incomplete and the Eagles fell to 2-3.
Next up for the Eagles is a match-up with West Lafayette Harrison.
The Raiders are 0-5 this season and haven’t won since Sept. 10, 2010.
McWhorter said the kids have to dig deep after back-to-back losses.
“They have keep upbeat themselves if they have any character about them — and I think they do,” McWhorter said. “We have to find a way to score more points, that’s for sure. It is a record-setting year for our offensive in a negative way unfortunately. It’s a heartbreaking to see our offense struggle like that after years and years of productivity. Our offense has been horrible, we look absolutely horrible.”
Despite their record, McWhorter said they won’t be overlooking Harrison.
“From top to bottom there is no doubt this is the best the HCC has been,” McWhorter said. “Even Harrison, I know they haven’t won yet, but their level of play is twice as good as it was last year.”