DUBLIN — B.J. Drake rushed for 218 yards and two touchdowns, and Dayvon Swindell scored five times in leading West Bladen to a 49-28 homecoming win over visiting West Columbus.
The win improved the Knights to 4-4 overall and 2-4 in the Three Rivers Conference.
West Bladen wasted little time getting on the board, needing just two plays on the game’s opening possession to find the end zone. Starting at its own 45 after a squib kickoff, the Knights got a 39-yard run by Drake and a 16-yard touchdown run by Swindell just 27 seconds into the game. Jose Garcia’s PAT gave West Bladen a 7-0 edge.
After forcing a three and out, the Knights took over at their own 14 after a 44-yard punt and a 10-yard holding penalty. But it hardly fazed West Bladen, which went on an 86-yard, seven-play march to pay dirt — featuring an 11-yard run by Drake, 24-yard run by Swindell and a 31-yard touchdown pass from Tyre Boykin to Swindell. Garcia’spoint after put the Knights up 14-0 with 5:41 left in the first quarter.
The Vikings responded, using a balanced run-pass attack to move 52 yards in six plays and score with 2:16 left. A two-point conversion run pulled the visitors to within 14-8.
It was the closest they would get.
West Bladen got a 30-yard kickoff return from Jimmy Williams and set up at the Vikings’ 35. Drake ran for 17 yards and Swindell followed with an 18-yard touchdown run. Garcia booted the extra point to give West Bladen a 21-8 advantage with 1:55 left in the first frame.
Neither team could threaten over the next 13 minutes, as the defenses took over. For West Bladen, Jalen Drew picked up a sack early in the second quarter, Jvahn Thomas got a sack midway through the quarter and the duo of Kendell Johnson and Thomas shared a sack late in the half for the Knights.
West Bladen took the 21-8 lead into halftime.
“We need to get the intensity back we had in the first quarter,” West Bladen coach Kris Williams said. “I told them it’s 0-0 and it’s time to go.”
The Knights got the message.
After holding West Columbus to a three and out, a 33-yard punt put West Bladen on its own 22. The first handoff to Drake went for 60 yards down to the Vikings’18, but a run, fumble and pass totaled a minus 4 yards and the Knights were facing a fourth and 14.
But then West Columbus jumped off-sides, and the ball went to the Vikings’ 17.
And then West Columbus jumped off-sides again, moving the ball to their 12.
One more time, the visitors jumped off-sides and gave West Bladen a first down at the West Columbus 7.
From there, Drake needed just one run to find the end zone, and Boykin added a two-point conversion run to put the Knights up 29-8 with 5:18 left in the third quarter.
West Columbus took its next possession at its own 11 and began moving. Five plays moved the ball out to the 45 before Swindell picked off a pass, giving the Knights possession at their own 28.
Michael Hepburn ran for 7 yards, Drake picked up 3, Kerron Washington ran for 16 and Drew gained 9 before Swindell raced 36 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The PAT was no good, but the Knights led 35-8 just 1:02 into the final period.
West Columbus went noplace on its next possession and the Knights took over at their own 26 — and Drake took the handoff and sprinted 74 yards for a touchdown with 7:35 left in the game. Joseph Masaid booted the point after to give West Bladen a 42-8 lead.
The Vikings answered with a 60-yard, three-play touchdown drive fueled by two West Bladen penalties. The conversion failed and West Columbus trailed by 42-14.
West Bladen had to punt after three plays and two penalties left them with a fourth and forever. A 29-yard punt gave the visitors possession at their own 14 after a 14-yard penalty, and the Vikings quickly moved those 86 yards in two plays — the big one a tipped ball that was caught by a Vikings receiver and carried the rest of the way for an 84-yard score. A two-point conversion pass was good and West Columbus was within 42-22 with 2:40 left to play.
The Knights began at their own 39 and, on the first play, Washington took the handoff and scampered 61 yards for a touchdown — but the play came back on a penalty. Drew ran for 5 yards, Swindell ran for 5 yards and — after West Columbus took a timeout — Boykin hit Swindell with a 60-yard touchdown strike. Masaid kicked the extra point to put West Bladen up 49-22 with 1:18 left.
West Columbus moved 61 yards quickly and scored with 32 seconds left. The two-point conversion pass was intercepted by Washington to all but end the game.
“All in all it’s a good win,” Williams said. “The offense, other than the second quarter, looked real good. We got a lot of players in, too.”
Behind Drake’s 218 yards and two touchdowns, Swindell rushed for 94 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught two touchdown passes, as Boykin was 4-of-5 through the air for 105 yards.
West Bladen plays at St. Pauls on Friday.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.