MALVERN – The East Mills football team gave Westwood a lesson in hard-nosed, old school football on Friday.
The Wolverine defense was once again dominant holding the Rebels to less than 100 yards rushing – the fourth time in as many games they’ve done so – as the offense slugged and muscled it’s way for 309 yards rushing in a 37-6 district win.
“We knew we had to be strong up front on defense because they do such a good job with their option,” said East Mills coach Andy Irwin after the game. “If we could get penetration we knew we could disrupt their mesh and their timing. And I think that’s what we were able to accomplish.”
The Wolverines’ offense set the tone early running right at the Rebels’ defense. After a big kick-off return by Josh Hopkins set up East Mills on the Westwood 40, the Wolverines ran the ball eight straight time, all between the tackles, with Colby Jennings capping the 3:30 minute drive with a 10 yard touchdown.
The two teams traded punts on their next possessions before the Rebels appeared to be making a drive. Taking the ball from their own 37, Westwood drove to the Wolverine 16. But after deciding to go for it on a fourth-and-two stopped Hunter East on a quarterback sneak to get the ball back on downs. The
Wolverine defense would hold twice more on fourth-and-short in the first half.
“We work on that every week,” Irwin said. “We rep it a lot. Our kids know what they have to do. It’s about being low and taking care of you gap responsibilities. It worked for us tonight.”
The Rebels didn’t cross mid-field until the third quarter as Irwin’s defense took control of the line of scrimmage with nose guard David Howell clogging up the inside and linebacker Michael Story cleaning up.
“It’s a tough thing for an offense to decide,” Irwin said of his start nose guard and middle linebacker. “Do you double David or do you try and get somebody up to Michael? A lot of times if they double David he can split the double.”
Story finished with 19 tackles, including nine solo stops, while Howell had nine tackles and a sack.
Irwin said his offensive game plan early was simple and straight forward: run right between the tackles.
“We thought the middle would be open because they do a good job of getting guys out wide and they’re pretty fast but we thought we could get some plays up the middle and we were successful with it early on and we were then able to go back to the outside.”
Jennings added a three yard score and Lane Stortenbecker added an 18 yard scamper before Travis Tupper booted a 49-yard field goal as time expired to make it 24-0 at the half.
In the third quarter, Jennings picked up his third touchdown run of the game and finished with 135 yards on 19 carries. The 5-foot-9 senior leads the Wolverines in rushing this season with 614 yards and eight touchdowns. With East Mills’ “between the tackles” game plan, Jennings made most of his yards Friday after contact.
“They’ve got to get two or three guys on him because his balance is so good. He’s just a good tough runner,” Irwin said.
The Wolverines’ win was the fourth straight this season in which they’ve limited an offense to less than 100 yards rushing and a less than a 50 percent completion percentage. For the season the Wolverines have given up just three touchdown while allowing just five point per game in their 4-0 start.
The Wolverines head to Logan-Magnolia (2-2) Friday for a key Class A, District 8 match up.
EM 07 17 07 06 37
W 00 00 06 00 6
EM – Colby Jennings,10 run (kick good).
EM – Jennings, 3 run (kick good).
EM – Lane Stortenbecker, 18 run (kick good).
EM – Travis Tupper, 49 field goal.
W – Zach Ulven, 1 run (kick failed).
EM – Jennings, 3 run (kick good).
EM – Cavin Darnold, 2 run (kick failed).