CERRO GORDO — West Bladen saw its big lead evaporate in the second half, but fought back to take a 37-27 non-conference win over West Columbus on Friday.
It’s the first time in at least 10 years that the Knights have opened a season at 2-0.
West Bladen got on the board with its first possession, highlighted by a 19-yard run by Malcolm Vaught and culminated with Vaught’s 10-yard touchdown run. Colby McLean’s PAT gave the Knights a quick 7-0 lead that held up throughout the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, the Vikings scored to pull within 7-6, but West Bladen’s Semmorick Jessup blocked the point after to preserve the Knights’ slim lead.
De’quan Lennon hauled in the ensuing kickoff and raced 84 yards for a West Bladen touchdown. McLean kicked the extra point to give the Knights a 14-6 edge.
After holding West Columbus, the Knights marched 63 yards that ended with a 43-yard touchdown run by Lennon. McLean booted the extra point for a 21-6 West Bladen lead as the first half was winding down.
But the Vikings struck quickly, getting a 33-yard touchdown run just before halftime to trim the West Bladen lead to 21-12.
Vaught took the opening third-quarter kickoff 78 yards, which helped set up a 24-yard field goal by McLean, giving West Bladen a 24-12 lead. But after holding the Vikings, West Bladen’s drive fizzled and a punt traveled just 11 yards to give West Columbus the ball in good field position.
They took advantage, getting a 10-yard touchdown run and, after the two-point conversion was good, had trimmed the deficit to 24-20.
Moments later, the Vikings intercepted a rare West Bladen pass and set up West Columbus at the Knights’ 17. Two plays later, the Vikings scored on a 21-yard touchdown pass, added the PAT and took their first lead of the game at 27-24.
West Bladen, however, quickly grabbed the momentum back.
Starting at their own 45, the Knights traveled 55 yards featuring a 25-yard run by Lennon and a 13-yard pass from Lewis to Malique McDowell. Moments later, Vaught ran the ball twice for 15 yards, the last a 4-yard touchdown run. McLean’s extra point gave West Bladen a 31-27 edge they would not give up.
Knights linebacker Parker Allen stepped up big on the next two West Columbus possessions — stripping the ball away on the first one to stop a drive, and then punching the ball loose on the next possession that Vaught recovered at the Vikings’ 29. From there, West Bladen got a 23-yard run from McDowell and a 5-yard touchdown run by Vaught that all but sealed the game for the Knights at 37-27.
Vaught put the exclamation mark on the game for West Bladen by intercepting a pass to end the game.
Lennon led West Bladen on the ground with 153 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, while McDowell had 84 yards on 19 carries. Vaught scored three times for the Knights