HOWARD — Down by as many as 15 points in the first half, West Elk took control after the break and rolled to a 52-21 victory over Udall in a South Central Border League matchup Friday at Pat Simmons Stadium.
“We played about as poorly as we could in that first half,” said WEHS coach Chris Haag. “We were down 15-0 with about five or six minutes left in the second quarter. We weren’t doing anything. But we handled the adversity and really pulled ourselves together in that second half. I think we really showed our toughness out there. It was a good win for us.”
The Patriots — now 2-0 overall — have already surpassed their win total from all of last season when they went 1-8. West Elk will hit the road for the first time this season on Sept. 20 when it travels to face another unbeaten team, St. Paul. The Indians are also 2-0 overall following Friday’s 58-12 victory over Wichita-Life Prep.
On the other side, Udall dropped to 1-1 on the season. The Eagles will make their first home appearance of the season on Sept. 20 when they entertain another SCBL foe, Central of Burden. The Raiders are 0-2 overall following a 69-24 home loss to Argonia/Attica.
“For the first quarter and half of the second, we looked like a really good football team,” said UHS coach Wyatt Williams. “We were ahead 15-0 and had the ball. Everything fell apart after that as we were out scored 52-6 during the last three and a half quarters. It was the second straight game in which we have been dominated after halftime, and our lack of effort after halftime in both games is very concerning. We must get this corrected and fast as district play opens up in two weeks.”
Since West Elk dropped down to the eight-man ranks back in 2010, the teams had split their previous eight matchups. Just last season, the Eagles captured a 52-6 victory over the Patriots in Udall.
Early in Friday’s contest, Udall had control once again. The Eagles took the lead on a 10-yard touchdown run by Trevor Whiteman for a 76-0 lead after one quarter. Whiteman went back in the end zone on a one-yard dive in the second period, adding the conversion run as well for a 15-0 advantage.
Momentum started to shift before halftime, though. The Patriots got a pick six from Devin Loudermilk, who returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown. Then just before the break, Loudermilk was on the receiving end of a 24-yard TD pass from Rocky Hanks, and Nic Moreno ran in the conversion to get West Elk back within one at 15-14 heading into the intermission.
It was all WEHS in the second half. A 65-yard scoring scamper from Moreno, followed by a 56-yard run into the end zone by Loudermilk helped the Patriots take the lead for good at 28-15.
Although the Eagles narrowed the gap to 28-21 on a two-yard touchdown run by Alan Garton early in the fourth quarter, West Elk eventually put the game away. In fact, the Patriots scored the game’s final 24 points on touchdown runs of 22 and 43 yards by Moreno and a 23-yard pass play from Loudermilk to Hanks for the final margin.
West Elk finished the game with a 375-227 advantage in total yardage.
The Patriots had two rushers surpass the 100-yard mark for the game — Moreno with 18 carries for 193 yards and three touchdowns, as well as Loudermilk with 10 attempts for 116 yards and one score. Loudermilk actually accounted for four different touchdowns — one each by rushing, passing, receiving and defensive on an interception.
As for the Eagles, they were led by Garton with 25 carries for 103 yards and one touchdown.