WEST PORTSMOUTH — The West Senators came up short in their first game of 2015 on Friday, falling to Newark Catholic 28-12.
“I thought our guys played hard the whole time, we just didn’t have what it took tonight,” West head coach Ben Johnson said.
The Senator defense stepped up early in Friday’s game, forcing the Green Wave (1-0) to go three and out in their first two possesions. However, the West offense failed to find its footing. The Senators (0-1) stalled at midfield after picking up a few first downs on their first possesion, and a costly holidng penalty negated a big run in West’s second drive.
The Green Wave offense wouldn’t be quiet for long. After picking up their first first down in the waning moments of the first quarter, NewCath quarterback Kris Goodman found receiver Tanner Lake streaking up the far sideline for a 32-yard reception. The catch set up a seven-yard touchdown reception by Cole Buchanan on the first play of the second quarter to give the Green Wave a 7-0 lead.
West seemed to show some life on their next drive, as quarterback John Berry came up with a long run and a pass to Job Swords. However, both were called back due to holding penalties, and West was forced to punt.
Penalties proved to be a thorn in the Senators’ side all night long. West drew nine flags, moving them back a total of 58 yards.
“Penalties killed us, for sure,” Johnson said. “That’s not how you beat good teams. You can’t have penalties if you’re going to win close games.”
Newark Catholic seemed poised to score again on thier next drive, but the West defense came ready. A fumble recovered by Derek Carver gave the Senators the ball right at midfield. That allowed the Senators to piece together a a long eight play 50-yard drive, all of it coming on the ground. Job Swords finished it off with a three-yard touchdown run. Though West missed the extra point, the had cut the NewCath lead to 7-6.
Swords proved to be West’s biggest weapon on offense on Friday, recording 136 total yards.
That score would hold until halftime, but Berry would come up limp after a run on West’s final drive of the first half. He would not return to the game, and spent the second half on crutches.
Johnson wasn’t sure of Berry’s status after the game.
“I just know he wasn’t ready to come back to the game tonight,” he said.
The Green Wave struck first in the second half. After a poor Senator punt, New Cath took over at their own 40 and immediately took advantage of the good field position. Goodman found Jud Lewis deep down the middle for a 28-yard gain. Wes Jurgen later capped a 60-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown dive to give New Cath a 14-6 lead.
The drive was representative of the Senators’ night on defense: Stout against the run, but liable to give up a big play though the air. West limited the Green Wave to just 86 rushing yards on 31 carries, but allowed 153 passing yards.
“Give credit to them. They ran good routes, threw good balls and made the plays when they had to,” Johnson said. “We just need on getting better.”
The Senators caught a break when linebacker Wesley Bailey recovered a Green Wave fumble at the New Catch 25 yard line midway through the third quarter. However, West gave the ball back on the very next play when Swords’ had his halfback pass intercepted by Tanner Lake.
The Green Wave would make West pay for their mistake. Goodman and the New Cath offense pieced together an eight-play 76-yard drive, highlighted by a 29-yard pass to Lake.
Jurgen picked up his second touchdown of the night with a six-yard camper, and the Wave held a 21-6 lead late in the third. He finished as New Cath’s leading rusher, with 35 yards and two touchdowns.
Though West’s trick play led to a costly inteception, Johnson doesn’t regret the call.
“We had the momentum, and I wanted to take a chance and go for a big play there,” he said. “Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.”
After the interception the Senator offense didn’t find themselves in scoring position until midway through the fourth quarter. With time running out to mount a comeback and facing a fourth-and-two down near midfield, the Senators elected to go for it. Job Swords picked up the first down, and two plays later he scored on a 40-yard catch from back-up QB Brady Douthat to cut the Green Wave led to 21-12 with 6:29 remaining.
But that’s as close as the Senators would come. Newark Catholic’s Grant Rausch scored on a 15-yard touchdown run a few drives later, and West couldn’t manage to move into scoring position for the remainder of the game.
Though he couldn’t lead the Senators to a comeback, Douthat was effective under center. He finished with 99 passing yards on eight completions.
“He did pretty good. That’s always a tough situation to come in as a young guy and replace a senior,” Johnson said.
West will hit the road next Friday, when they travel to face rival Portsmouth at Spartan Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
NC — C. Buchanan 7-yd reception from K. Goodman (H. McCarthy PAT) (11:45)
West — J. Swords 3-yd rush (PAT no good) (3:56)
NC — W. Jurden 1-yd rush (H. McCarthy PAT) (6:41)
West — W. Jurden 4-yd TD rush (H. McCarthy PAT) (:59)
West — J. Swords 40-yd reception from B. Douthat (PAT no good) (6:29)
NC — G. Rausch 15-yd rush (H. McCarthy PAT) (2:13)
Passing — Newark Catholic: K. Goodman 12-20-153; West: B. Douthat 8-18-99, J. Swords 0-1-0, J. Berry 0-3-0.
Rushing — Newark Catholic: W. Jergen 16-35, G. Rausch 4-24, K. Gibson 6-18, C. Buchanan 1-12, J. Lewis 1-3, C. Lewis 1-0, K. Goodman 2-(-6); West: J. Swords 15-52, J. Berry 9-51, N. Frasure 4-29, S. Kegley 4-14, B. Douthat 6-(-14).
Receiving — Newark Catholic: T. Lake 3-79, J. Wollenburg 4-38, J. Lewis 2-27, C. Cramer 1-9, C. Buchanan 1-7. W. Jurgen 1-(-7); West: J. Swords 5-84, A. Baker 1-9. P. Bays 1-8, N. Frasure 1-(-2).
Newark Catholic 1-0; West 0-1.
Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter