By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
MOORE — It was one of those nights for Westmoore. One in which it couldn’t rely the excitement of a rivalry or the enthusiasm of its own crowd to get them hyped. When it faced Bixby Friday at Moore Stadium, it was an uninspiring type of night and coach Billy Langford knew it was coming.
Despite that, the Jaguars did what good teams do on those occasions. They went to work and pulled out a 35-6 victory over the Spartans in the first district game of the season.
“I thought it was just solid,” Langford said. “I didn’t think it was great. I thought it was just a solid, pretty workmanlike night. I would rather we not have to win like that. But I also know that after the non-district that they had, the mental fatigue was there. So it was good character for them to be able to grind one out like it was.”
It was the offensive line that paved the way for the Jaguars’ (3-1) victory. Zach Clark, Jacob Finn, Noah Hammons, Nick Hardaway and Ty Watkins started the game slow but as the night wore on, their punishing style took its toll on Bixby.
“We didn’t play very well in the first half,” Finn said. “Kind of sluggish. But once in the second half we started breaking them for long runs. We got it going towards the very end and started wearing them down. If we can get four quarters of where we are wearing people down we can be really good.”
Yet, it was Westmoore that struck first. On the game’s first possession, quarterback Jhames West scored on a 10-yard run less than three minutes into the game. But the Jaguars didn’t see the end zone again the rest of the period.
Bixby didn’t have the personnel for quick strikes and big plays. With its spread offense, it tried to shorten the contest using a ground attack .
But that played right into the hands of the Jaguars’ defense. With Jacob Tilley, Soloman Vanover and Josh Morgan stuffing the run, it left Bixby with few options but to put the ball in the air.
Quarterback Marshall Ray peppered the middle of the field with quick, short passes and drove the team down to the Jaguars’ 4-yard line early in the second quarter. But on fourth down, instead of going for a field goal, the Spartans went for the touchdown pass that was incomplete.
“Defensively we just stood our ground,” Langford said. “They had a few drives on us. But we ended up digging in at the right time. Made enough plays to hold.”
West later completed a 66-yard touchdown pass to Alexander Svetgoff to give the Jags a 14-0 advantage into halftime.
The teams traded punts throughout the third quarter until the Spartans (2-2) allowed a snap to go over the punter’s head and the Jags got the ball on the 31-yard line. Three plays later Kieron Hardrick put Westmoore up 21-0. It was the first of two touchdowns for the junior.
“It’s very important to get the running game going because we can’t just depend on the passing game all the time,” Hardrick said. “Sometimes defenses will key on that. So we have to get our running game and passing game together.”
Bixby finally got on the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter and had momentum on its side. But that evaporated when West broke loose for a 78-yard TD run that dashed the hopes of the Spartans and put the game away.
“I thought we broke them right there,” Finn said. “We are good at wearing people down. When defenses are tired come the fourth quarter, we are fresh.”