The Wolverines defeated the St. Paul Swordsmen 28-21 in a whirlwind of a game that ended up coming down to field position and turnovers down the stretch. Coming into the game, the two teams were only five ranks apart in the state of California according to MaxPreps. This was both teams’ first game in the Angelus League this season.
After a two hour bus drive to Santa Fe Springs, the Wolverines came out of the gates with almost no energy. The Swordsmen were forced to punt on their first drive, but quickly got the ball back after a questionable intentional grounding call on Noah Rothman ’16 causing a loss of down.
On St. Paul’s second drive of the night, Phil Thompson ’16 forced a fumble and set the Wolverines up with good field position, starting on the opposition side of the field. However, Harvard-Westlake was unable to convert after going for it on fourth down.
The Swordsmen took over and moved the ball with ease, using a play-action bootleg pass to the tight end on two consecutive plays, getting into the red zone and eventually scoring.
The Wolverines got all the way down to the St. Paul three-yard line and were forced to kick a field goal which was blocked.
At the end of the first half, Harvard-Westlake got into the red zone again and Rothman threw an interception on a screen pass to Thomas Glover ’18.
Zac Harleston ’17 then intercepted St. Paul’s first play after they intercepted Rothman.
On the ensuing play, Rothman threw a pick six to make the score 14-0 in favor of St. Paul at the end of two quarters.
The Wolverines began their first drive of the second half with a Loyal Terry ’19 fumble. Alex Barnum ’16 then got Harvard-Westlake the ball back by making a one-handed interception inside of the 10-yard line to save a touchdown.
However, the Wolverines were unable to pick up a first down and ended up giving the ball right back to the Swordsmen who scored a touchdown on a quarterback run, putting St. Paul up 21-0.
After an insignificant possession for the Wolverines, the Swordsmen took over and it appeared that the game could be over after St. Paul was using their strong triple option ground game to both burn clock and pick up first downs. But the Wolverines forced a three and out and got the ball back with under eight minutes remaining in the game.
Glover picked up three straight first downs, putting the Wolverines inside of the red zone for the third time in the game, but this time, Rothman ran for a 10-yard scamper to put the Wolverines on the scoreboard.
After kicker Josh Lyons ’17 failed an onside kick attempt, the Swordsmen were forced to punt again after a Ben Cooper ’16 sack on third down.
Max Robertson ’17 tipped the St. Paul punt attempt and the Wolverines began their drive on the 45-yard line. Rothman then promptly threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Jones ’18 to get the score to 21-14 with 6:30 left to play.
After kicking the ball deep, the Swordsmen were unable to pick up a first down and had to punt the ball back to the Wolverines.
Rothman and Thompson each had 10-yard runs, and then Rothman threw another 40-yard touchdown to Jones to even up the game with three minutes remaining.
“I just had faith in our quarterback tonight,” Jones said. “After an ok first half, he came out firing towards the end of the game and led us to a victory tonight.”
On St. Paul’s second play of the drive, Robertson returned an interception for a touchdown, putting the Wolverines up 28-21 with 1:30 left.
The Swordsmen returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to the 35-yard line and then completed two subsequent passes to move the ball to the Harvard-Westlake 32.
However, after several penalties and a sack, the Swordsmen were unable to score and ended up throwing an interception to Jones. After a Rothman kneel, the Wolverines had officially completed the comeback.
The Wolverines ended up winning, after scoring 28 unanswered points in the final eight minutes of the game.
“We came into the game thinking that we could do whatever we wanted, but at halftime, we took a step back and realized that we needed to step up our game and we were strong in the fourth quarter and gained all the momentum.” Rothman said.
The squad will look to move to 2-0 in Angelus League and 5-2 overall when they play next Thursday at St. Francis High School at 7 p.m.
“If we play like we did tonight in the fourth quarter against St. Francis, we will definitely have a good shot of beating them,” Robertson said.
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