McNeil outlasts late push to topple Westwood

The Warriors missed the potential game-tying field goal as time expired


With nothing but waiting to do on the sideline, McNeil head coach Howard McMahan was nervous, and rightfully so.

Late in the fourth quarter, with his Mavericks clinging to a 32-29 lead, Westwood’s Jack Elliot lined up to kick a 44-yard field goal to tie the game and force overtime. 

The kicked flew wide right and the McNeil sideline erupted. 

The Mavs held on to beat Westwood 32-29 at Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex on Friday night.

“When the ball was kicked and went wide, I mean, there was so much excitement from these kids,” McMahan said. “Both teams fought their hearts out and battled, and I thought in that last (Westwood) drive, we showed a lot of character in forcing a long kick.”

McNeil improved to 3-2 on the season, with a 2-1 district record. Westwood fell to 3-3 and 1-3 in District 13-6A play of 1-3. 

“We’re going to enjoy this one for a while,” McMahon said.

Westwood trailed 25-14 in the final nine minutes before a calamity of scoring broke the game wide open. The Warriors scored a read option play on 4th and 1 from the McNeil 13 as Nate Anderson trotted home, then converted a two-point attempt to cut the lead to three.

The Warriors would eventually take the lead on their next possession, as Mario Debs rushed for his second of two touchdowns in a draw right down the middle of the field.

McNeil quarterback Zane Kampfer (17-of-22, 296 yards, two touchdowns) then found wide receiver Jordan Kerley (four catches, 117 yards) with a 24-yard slant strike, followed up by a 27-yard Winston Hutchison rushing touchdown.

“We made big plays when we had to, and any time your kids step up and make big plays like that, you’re gonna have a chance to win some big ball games,” McMahan said. 

McNeil opened the scoring with a 30-yard field goal from Zach Dickinson and the Mavs added to their lead with a safety in the second quarter. 

Kampfer scored on a short sneak in the second quarter, but Westwood rnning back Mario Debs scored on a 24-yard rush on the next drive. 

The Mavericks scored once more on a 47-yard run from Hutchinson. The Warriors answered in the second half with a 16-play, 69-yard drive with Lynden Jones punching the ball in from three yards out.

Defensively, Westwood defensive back Darrian DeBerry finished the game with a pair of interceptions. 

Westwood takes a week off after Friday’s loss and hosts Vandegrift at Kelly Reeves on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m., while McNeil travels to Monroe Stadium to face the Vipers in their next game on Oct. 12.

Westwood was six-for-six on fourth-down tries in Friday’s loss, and McMahon pointed to his team’s mental resolve in spite of that as a big reason for the win. 

“When you’re facing a well-coached team, they know what they’re going to do and how to do it,” he said. “All I tell our guys is ‘You get back in the huddle and keep fighting, good things are going to happen.’”

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