Western Hills’ football team got off to a fast start against Grant County Friday, going up 6-0 midway through the first quarter at WHHS.
The Braves caught fire after that and went on to a 44-20 victory, their first of the season.
“There was nothing we hadn’t seen in the scouting report or on film,” WHHS coach Don Miller said. “Their quarterback hit two screen passes in the first half and took both in for touchdowns, and they blocked a punt for a touchdown, too.”
Grant County’s fortunes rode on the arm of quarterback Shelby Caudill.
He threw a pass early in the first quarter that was intercepted by WHHS’ Austin Patton and returned to the Grant County 24-yard line.
That was the beginning of the Wolverines’ first scoring drive. The big play of the drive was a 29-yard pass from Nick Young to Tanner Smith that put the ball on the 1-yard line.
Daniel Childress scored on the next play to make the score 6-0. The point-after kick was no good, and Western Hills led 6-0.
The score stayed 6-0 until Caudill hit Derek Sutherland with a screen pass that went for 86 yards and a touchdown with 36 seconds left in the first quarter. The PAT was no good, and the game was tied 6-6 at the end of the period.
Before that Caudill had thrown nine passes with one completion, one interception and seven incomplete passes. He finished the game with five touchdown passes.
“I think it was just nerves, jitters,” Grant County coach Kevin Siples said about Caudill. “The quarterback we saw later in the game is the quarterback we see every day in practice.
“He was a little off, but we stuck with it and he figured a way out of it. That first screen pass was big because we got some confidence going when we scored that touchdown.”
With 10:24 left in the second quarter Grant County blocked a WHHS punt. Austin Hall picked up the ball and ran it in for a touchdown. Hunter Lawson kicked the extra point, and the Braves were ahead 13-6.
Caudill and Sutherland hooked up on a 50-yard screen pass that went for a touchdown about five minutes before halftime, giving Grant County a 19-6 lead at the break.
The Braves scored twice in the third quarter, on a 13-yard pass from Caudill to Bryce Briggs and a 41-yard pass from Caudill to Dustin Haar just before the end of the period.
“Our defense stepped up,” Siple said. “We started out a little sluggish on offense, but our defense kept us in it until we started clicking on offense.”
GCHS led 31-6 after the third and scored early in the fourth when Caudill hit Briggs with a 9-yard scoring strike with 8:47 left in the game.
Grant County closed out its scoring with a 56-yard touchdown run by Sutherland with 6:39 remaining.
“It was nice to see the guys rally and play hard,” Siple said. “That’s a good Western Hills team. They’re physical.”
WHHS scored two touchdowns in the final six minutes of the game. Casey McLean ran 59 yards for one score with 5:42 remaining, and Childress ran the ball in on the conversion for a 44-14 score.
A 21-yard touchdown run by Childress with 37 seconds left made the final score 44-20.
Western Hills (0-3) plays at home this Friday against Owen County.
“We’ve got some injuries,” Miller said, “but we still have to step up and do a better job.”