By Brady Cox | T. L. Hanna Contributor
In this year’s edition of the Electric City showdown, it was the T.L. Hanna Yellow Jackets who rose to the top at Westside Memorial Stadium on Friday night, defeating their crosstown foe’s in a 20-14 nail-biter.
T.L. Hanna took advantage of five Westside turnovers, and stared adversity in the face on their way to victory. Head Coach Jason Tone could not say enough about his team. “Tonight showed me a lot about my team,” Tone said. “They did a great job of playing the next play and I’m so proud of them.”
The Yellow Jackets appeared to be in control early, as they took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. The scoring began when senior cornerback Ja’Nike Truesdale made an astounding one-handed interception off of Westside quarterback Blair Garner. Senior running back Preston Pettway then broke off a long run, and then scored from 10 yards out on the next play.
On Westside’s next possession, Blair Garner fumbled on a quarterback keeper, and the Yellow Jackets quickly fell on top of it. Junior kicker Jay Billingsley drilled a 35-yard field goal a few plays later.
The second quarter was a defensive slugfest, with both defenses showing their fight. Late in the second quarter, senior fullback Jackson Pusey provided a small spark for the Yellow Jacket offense, breaking off a long run to the Westside 20 yard line. Kicker Jay Billingsley then nailed a 36-yard field goal with eight seconds left in the half, ultimately putting the Yellow Jackets up 13-0 over the Rams at halftime.
Westside got the ball first to open up the second half, and Westside head coach Scott Earley proved to make some sound adjustments at halftime. The Rams ran a quarterback keeper formation with senior wide receiver Elijah Harper the whole third quarter, putting together a crippling eight minute drive that ended in a Westside score. T.L. Hanna still led by a score of 13-7 at the end of the third quarter.
While the Yellow Jackets were stagnant on offense for most of the fourth quarter, the defense showed real grit. With 3:29 left to go in the game, the Rams seemed to be putting together a solid drive. Junior Smith threw a pass down the left sideline, and senior Preston Pettway intercepted the pass, taking it 75-yards for a score to put the Yellow Jackets up 20-7. “It was all my team, I just happened to be there to make the play; I’m just happy for my team,” Pettway said.
Right when it seemed the Yellow Jackets had put it out of reach, Westside marched down the field in two minutes, scoring on a 20-yard pass from Blair Garner to Elijah Harper, bringing the score to 20-14. Westside then attempted an onside kick with just 50 seconds remaining, and recovered. With no timeouts, the Rams moved the ball down to the redzone, but the Yellow Jacket defense hung tough, forcing an incompletion in the endzone as time expired.
Coach Tone had a ton of praise for his team down the stretch. “Our defense never put their heads down after that onside kick recovery, they went out there with the mentality of ‘lets end this’, and I can’t tell you how proud I am of them,” Tone said. “This win is huge for our program.”
T.L. Hanna moves to 4-0 and 2-0 in region play, while Westside falls to 1-3 and 1-1 in region play.
The Yellow Jackets look to continue their region dominance against Greenwood next week.
T.L. Hanna 10-3-0-7
Hanna- Preston Pettway 10-yd run (Billingsley kick)
Hanna- Jay Billingsley 35-yd field goal
Hanna- Jay Billingsley 36-yd field goal
Westside- Elijah Harper 2-yd run (Earley kick)
Hanna- Preston Pettway 75-yd interception (Billingsley kick)
Westside- Elijah Harper 20-yd pass from Blair Garner (Earley kick)
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