|Senators come up short in Regional championship|
The West Washington football team only had to endure what it feels like after a loss one time this year.
Unfortunately for the Senators that time was a 35-13 loss to visiting Linton last Friday in the regional championship.
The Senators battled the Minor for three quarters, trailing 14-13 entering the final 12 minutes.
Linton got a little breathing room when Pierce Johnson scored from five-yards out. They kicked the PAT (point after touchdown) and led 21-13.
“I am pleased with every play we called, every decision we made and the kids executed like we wanted them to,” said West Washington Head Coach Phillip Bowsman. “. . . There is a ton to be proud of. These guys are competitors and they are not satisfied that we played one of the best teams in the state close.
“It will take some time to recover, but they have a lot to be proud of!”
It looked like the Senators would answer, but a costly holding penalty put them in a first down and 25 yard situation.
The error forced them to throw the ball and three straight incompletions brought about a punt with 6:17 remaining.
Four plays later Linton put the game away thanks to a 64-yard touchdown run by Jackson.
Another PAT put the Miners up 28-13.
They added another score and ended the Senators’ season and earned them a trip in Friday’s Semi-State against North Vermillion.
The Miners struck gold first when Jackson scored on a 49-yard run a little over 1:30 into the game.
The PAT put them up 7-0, but the Senators had an answer in the strong running of junior Landon McPheeters.
WW mounted a 13-play drive that covered 61 yards and ended when McPheeters scored on a one-yard run.
Jackson Byrne kicked the PAT to tie the score at 7-all with 4:54 remaining in the first quarter.
Linton had an answer for the Senator answer, this time scoring on a 12-yard run by Garrett Mason. Another PAT put them up 14-7 with 1:35 remaining in the first quarter.
The Senators would not be denied.
They mounted another long drive, this one was 13 plays and covered 74 yards and ended on a two-yard touchdown run by McPheeters, who amased 125 yards in the first half alone.
Jackson’s PAT kicked the left upright, but the Senators were behind by just one, 14-13 with 7:29 remaining in the first half.
Linton went on the move on their next possession, driving the ball to the Senator 10-yard line.
The drive ended when West Washinton’s Derek Leep intercepted a Linton pass.
The two teams traded possessions to end the first half.
West Washington had it’s chances in the third quarter. The biggest missed opportunity seemed to come when they failed to convert a third and short with less than 56 seconds remaining.
The officials measured and the ball was less than three inches short of being a first down.
“That’s one of those plays, you are talking about inches,” Bowsman said. “If he would have sneezed and moved the ball a half an inch, it would have been a first down! It was that close.”
Linton took advantage and scored on its next possession.
Bowsman admitted that McPheeters hyper-extended his knee in the first half, but said that wasn’t the reason his team didn’t have success moving the ball in the second half.
“They started switching their defenses and throwing junk defenses at us,” Bowsman said. “Plus, they are really good up front on their defense. Landon was dinged up, but he wouldn’t come off the field and we didn’t take him off because he deserved to be out there.”
The West Washington offense has been getting praise all season, but for much of Friday’s contest, the defense shinned.
“We held them below their average and they had to earn everything they got,” Bowsman said. “We gave up some plays early, but got that fixed. We created turnovers and made our breaks.”
This was the Senators second appearance in regionals in four years.
Bowsman said he feels like the program has turned one corner and now it’s time to take another step.
“I feel like we have two sectional championships and now we have to start putting some regional championships on there,” he said. “We want that be the norm around here!”
West Washington finished the year 11-1 and won conference, county and sectional championships.
Linton is now one win away from the State Finals. They will face North Vermillion next Friday.