Westlake Defense Bullies Brandeis On Their Way to the State Semifinal
San Antonio, TX — Westlake started with the ball at their own 28, where quarterback Kirkland Michaux quickly showed of his wheels with an 8 yard pickup to the 36. Brandeis almost had an early play of the game nominee when Michaux’s pass on the next play was batted up at the line of scrimmage and floated in the air until Kaine Buchanan laid out to try and pick it off. The ball landed just out of reach.
That close call was followed by a much wilder play by the Chaparrals. Michaux rolled to his right and threw it into the flat to Mason Mangum. The ball bounced right off his hands and into his teammate Ryan Lindley’s. Lindley caught it with a full head of steam, very similar to a planned hook and ladder, but it wasn’t, and he ran all the way down to the Brandeis 31.
From there, Lindley took a swing pass 10 more yards to the 21. On 1st and 10, Michaux threw it up to 6’3, 200 pound Jaden Greathouse. Greathouse jumped up and caught it at the 5, shoved a Bronco off of him and ran into the end zone to put Westlake up 7-0 with 10:32 still to play in the first quarter.
Brandeis pulled out the trickery right off the bat to respond. On the kickoff, Josh Suarez took the squib kick on the right side of the field and immediately started to his left. He had the Westlake coverage team following him and then flipped it to the explosive Aiden Inesta-Rodriguez who was cutting back to the right. Inesta-Rodriguez made it all the way to the Westlake 33 before being brought down along the sideline.
With such great field position and an explosive offense on the other side, Brandeis needed to take advantage. A handoff and swing pass to Corion Holmes made it 3rd and 6. Junior quarterback Jordan Battles converted by finding Suarez on a shallow cross that moved the ball to the 23.
Battles then kept the ball on the ground twice and had the Broncos at the 11 with a fresh set of downs. Battles was stuffed on the next play, and a holding penalty on second down made it 2nd and 18. The penalty would not phase them; however, and Battles hit a wide open Holmes down the seam on a play action pass. 7-7 with 6:40 in the first quarter.
Once again, Westlake marched right down the field. Beginning at their 31, Michaux continued to fool the Brandeis defense with read option keepers. He accounted for every positive yard on the 69 yard drive, rushing for 27 yards and passing for 44. Running back Zane Minors was tackled for a loss of two, which is why Michaux had 71.
A tough brake for Bronco fans came on a Michaux run from the 11. Michaux broke outside to the left and dove toward the pylon as a Brandeis defender neared him. As the two players collided, the ball popped out of Michaux’s hands and went out of bounds near the goal line.
Bronco fans thought the ball went out of bounds in the end zone, which would have given Brandeis the ball at the 20 yard line like a touchback. Instead, the referees deemed the ball went out at the one foot line, and Michaux punched it in on the next play to go up 14-7 with 2:35 in the first quarter.
Starting at their 21, Brandeis could not duplicate the success they had with a short field on their previous drive. Battles ran for 4 on first down, but a false start on the next play moved them back to the 20. A throwback screen to a running back looked promising on second down, but the pass was swatted down by a rushing Chaparral defender.
On 3rd and 11, Westlake sacked Battles for the first time. Austin McClendon got him and dropped him for a 7 yard loss. Brandeis would punt, and Westlake fair caught it at the Bronco 48.
Westlake could not capitalize on the good field position. A balanced mix of runs and passes moved them to the 14, but Brandeis clamped down and forced Westlake to try a 31 yard field goal. The kick missed wide right and gave Brandeis the ball at their 20.
The Broncos went three and out after only getting one yard. Westlake’s secondary was too talented for the undersized Brandeis’ receivers, and no one could get open for Battles. It did not help that Westlake’s defensive line never gave Battle any time to survey the field.
As the game wore on, even when there was not a pass rush, it seemed as if Battles assumed there was and left the pocket too soon. Brandeis never had consistent success through the air, and it allowed Westlake to focus on the run and bring the house when they were in obvious passing situations.
After the three and out, Westlake started at their 47. It took them seven plays to make it 21-7. Running back Zane Minors had 20 yards on three carries on the drive. Michaux connected with Greathouse on a play action pass for 18 yards that put them at the 5. Two plays later, Michaux ran it in again from the one yard line for his second rushing TD halfway through the second quarter.
On the next Brandeis possession, the Broncos marched 52 yards down the field to the Westlake 23 behind a 23 yard completion to Inesta-Rodriguez and Holmes’ runs. The drive stalled once they neared the red zone, and they found themselves in a 4th and 3 situation.
After a timeout from each team to reassess their play calls, Brandeis ran a designed QB run to the short side of the field that was stoned for no gain by about half of the Chaparral defense.
Now with the ball at their 23 with 2:48 remaining in the half, Westlake tried to get a late score. Holding penalties and short gains where the ball carrier was tackled in bounds drained the clock, and Michaux threw an interception down the field as time expired.
Halftime score: Westlake 21, Brandeis 7.
The third quarter saw Westlake go up 35-7. Brandeis’ came out of the break and moved the ball decently. They began at their 30, and on 3rd and 1 from the 39, Battles blasted through the middle of the Westlake defense for 36 yards to the Westlake 25. They could not get anything after that.
Following a loss of two on a reverse that Westlake saw coming, Battles threw a bad incompletion over the outstretched arms of a wide open Inesta-Rodriguez in the end zone. On 3rd down, the pass rush got after him again and forced a throwaway. The 44 yard field goal try had no chance and landed in the end zone.
Westlake used their stable of offensive weapons to move the ball from their 27 to the Brandeis 35. Once they made it there, though, the Bronco front ramped it up. They had Michaux dead to rights on a play action pass but let him escape, and he threw it away. They got to him on 4th and 8 with a group effort to give them back the ball.
The bend but don’t brake defense could not be rewarded. On Brandeis’ first play, Battles tried to go up the middle but was swarmed and had the ball knocked out.
Westlake recovered the fumble at the 35 and score with 3:30 in the third quarter on a run by Minors to the left side. Ryan Lindley turned a short pass in the flat into a 20 yard gain to the 15, and Minors did the rest. 28-7 Westlake.
Brandeis needed to score on this drive to have a chance in the fourth quarter. Another reverse kick return gave them 1st and 10 at the 39. Battles then picked up 2 and airmailed a deep pass to his 6’3”, 235 pound tight end Kris Bowen to bring up 3rd and 8. He threw another incompletion, and the Broncos had to go for it on 4th and long.
They decided to call a shovel pass to Joshua Green to the short side of the field and it fell incomplete at the line of scrimmage. It had no chance of getting 8 yards even if it was caught.
Once again starting in Bronco territory, the 41, Michaux completed two passes to Greathouse for a combined 39 yards. The second completion was on a rollout to the right from the 22 where Michaux threw it back to a wide open Greathouse all alone in the left side of the end zone. 35-7 with 28 seconds left in the third.
That was the finishing move. Both teams went on to score one more time in the fourth quarter. Holmes capped a 69 yard Brandeis drive with an 11 yard touchdown run. Two possessions later, Minors matched him with a six yard run of his own after Westlake forced a turnover on downs at the Brandeis 15.
Final score: Westlake 42, Brandeis 14.
Westlake will play the winner of Saturday afternoon’s Cy Creek and Katy Taylor game in the 6A DII Semifinal next week.
You can follow this link for the photo gallery from Friday night's game.
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