West Washington Head Coach Phillip Bowsman wanted his team to use the first 10 minutes of Friday’s game against county rival Eastern to set the tone.
The Senators didn’t need that much time. They scored their first two touchdowns in under two minutes and were ahead 34-0 at the end of the first quarter on their way to a 42-7 win.
“It was a huge first quarter,” Bowsman said. “I told the kids coming out that I wanted the tone set in the first five minutes and I am not sure we didn’t set it in the first two. I am proud of our kids. We executed on offense and on defense we flew around to the football.”
The fast start was due in large part by the Musketeers’ inability to hold on to the football.
They fumbled four times and threw an interception in the opening 12 minutes and were never able to recover.
“Give us credit for some of those turnovers and then some of them were unforced turnovers where the ball just popped out of their hands,” Bowsman said. “So it wasn’t all us, but we did take advantage of those opportunities.”
West Washington took the opening kick to Eastern’s 46-yard line. Then on the first play from scrimmage, sophomore Cody Maudlin, starting his first varsity game, threw a pass to senior Chad Thompson that went 46 yards for the game’s first score.
The Senators were set to kick the point after touchdown, but a bobbled snap forced Tyler Holliday to pick the ball up. The play worked as WW scored and took an 8-0 lead with 11:42 remaining in the first quarter.
Eastern’s first play from scrimmage didn’t go as well when sophomore Mike Hall carried for two yards, but then fumbled on his way to the ground.
Five plays and a little over a minute and a half later West Washington scored again, this time on a three-yard run by Tyler Dunn.
The PAT attempt by Brenden Grimes was wide left, but the Senators were rolling 14-0 with a little more than nine minutes remaining in the first.
Before the first quarter had ended Thompson scored two more touchdowns on receptions of 17 and 19 yards.
Thompson also threw a touchdown pass for 12 yards to Tyler Holliday.
The Senators had an opportunity to add on more points before the half, but had a drive end thanks to costly penalties.
In the second half neither team got much going in the way of offense.
West Washington did finally manage to score again when Dunn got his second three-yard touchdown run of the night.
Another bobbled snap led to a two-point conversion when Holliday rolled right and found an open Thompson in the endzone.
Thompson finished the night with six receptions for 113 yards and three touchdowns. He had one touchdown throwing the ball and had five carries on the ground for 47 yards.
Maudlin completed eight of 12 passes for 117 yards and had three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Offensively, Bowsman noted Thompson’s ability to hurt opponents in a variety of ways.
“Chad can help us in so many way,” he said. “He can throw it, catch it and run it. He threw a touchdown and caught three and even rushed the ball some for us. He is a special player who makes things happen and it’s our job to find ways to get him the ball.”
A question mark going into this season for the Senators was at quarterback, but Maudlin’s play went a long way in answering those questions.
“Cody played well,” Bowsman said. “If I were grading him for tonight, I’d probably give him a B. He threw a few picks and a few balls that had us scratching our heads as coaches, but there were times he didn’t look like a sophomore. He does a great job of running the ball and taking control of the offense. He is a hard worker and we’re excited to watch his improvement this year.”
Maudlin had 14 carries for 84 yards to lead the West Washington ground attack.
On defense, a lot of the credit for the Senators’ strong play goes to linebackers Sean Keller, Jake Howell, Hunter Davidson and Tyler Dunn.
“Sean Keller is pretty special. He has a nose for the football and all he wants to do is go hit somebody,” Bowsman said. “On the very first play he came in and got a shot on a kid and helped caused that turnover. We have to continue to have that kind of play from our linebackers. We have four who like to fly around and hit. They set the tone and we have a strong defensive line to go with them and some big physical defensive backs, too.
“We told the kids that it looks like their hard work in the off-season is paying off.”
Keller had 15 total tackles, nine solo, two for losses, one caused fumble and one fumble recovered.
Branson Smith had 10 tackles, Howell had nine and Dunn had eight.
The Senators 1-0 will remain at home this week as they take on Christian Academy of Louisville at 7:30 p.m.
West Washington won a shoot out in Louisville last year 35-27.
Eastern will open the home portion of their schedule against Clarksville at 7 p.m.