Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Westover is 2-0 in the city limits.

Well, make that 2-and-Oh!, as in West-Oh!-ver.

That's how good this one felt. That's how sweet it was, and that's how good it tasted. And make no mistake, Westover's 13-0 victory against city rival Dougherty at Hugh Mills on Friday night will have a lingering effect -- the kind of after-taste coaches preach about, the kind programs are built upon.

And if there was a program that needed a stepping stone it was Westover, which won so much more in its region opener against one of its biggest city rivals.

"The cornerstone of our program is this victory tonight,'' first-year Westover coach Octavia Jones said amid the celebration after the game. "This is a victory over a team that has dominated us in the past.

This gives us 365 days of bragging rights. It feels great, just great. We're 2-0 in the city.''

That's 2-and-Oh!

Jones arrived on the west side of Albany this season just in time to breathe new life in Westover's struggling football program, and he told his kids long before the season started they would have a chance to win the city championship.

He looks like a prophet now. The Patriots, who have had just four winning seasons in 40 years, are 2-0 against their city rivals and play Monroe in the final game of the regular season with a chance to claim a city championship.

"We're two-thirds of the way to a city championship,'' said Jones, who got some icing by also winning the Region 1-AAA opener. The Patriots lead the city series at 2-0 and are tied for first in the region at 1-0.

Jones and his kids don't even care about their 2-3 record.

"Those first four games were like the exhibition season,'' Westover center Sam Newman said. "These are the games that count.''

Especially against Dougherty. Just in case anyone cares (and everybody at Westover does), it has been 24 years since Westover shut out Dougherty, which has owned the Patriots. Dougherty came into the game with a 35-5 record against Westover and had won 22 of the last 23 games.

"This was a statement game,'' said Westover quarterback Justin Taylor, who threw a 64-yard TD pass and ran for a 3-yard TD. "We wanted to prove that we are going to be a team to be reckoned with in this city.''

Well, reckon they are. Just look at that 2-0 record in town. The Patriots beat Albany High, 21-7, earlier and stopped Dougherty with a defense that has given up one TD in two city rivalry games.

Westover's 'D' simply shut down everything Dougherty tried to do in the second half, and broke the game open with 1:40 left in the third on a 64-yard TD pass from Taylor to Kenneth Townes, who took a five-yard pass and turned it into jubilation.

"You take one play away and it's a different game,'' Dougherty coach Jesse Hicks said. "We had Townes covered all night, but we didn't have him covered on that play, and he goes 64 yards.''

He did, sailing down the right sideline after breaking a tackle.

"I just turned and saw the end zone,'' said Townes, who made two catches for 75 yards. "It felt great, felt like we had won a championship or something like that. I was happy, but I didn't smile until I got into the end zone.''

It shocked Dougherty.

"We had been running the ball so much, I don't think they were looking for the quick pass,'' Townes said. "That play gave us the lead, and our defense was awesome all night.''

Taylor took a hard hit after he threw the ball, but said the TD felt so good he couldn't feel any pain.

"He was wide open,'' Taylor said. "And when he turned up field, I knew he was gone. I got hit pretty good, but I was so happy, I just stayed on the ground until he was in the end zone.''

Taylor put the final touches on the night with a 3-yard run with 1:46 left after Westover held the Trojans on downs at their own 23.

Dalviness "Deion" Greene, who gained 97 yards for Westover on 20 carries, busted a 17-yard run to the 6-yard line just before Taylor scored.

Dougherty (2-3 and 0-1 in Region 1-AAA) had two scoring threats in the first half, but both drives ended at the Patriots' 23-yard line when the Trojans failed on fourth-and-long situations. Westover defensive end Derrick Akins came up with two huge plays, pressuring Trojan QB Justin Nelson, who had to throw quickly on third and fourth down at the 23 just before halftime.

"That was a big play,'' Hicks said. "We had him wide open. If we complete that pass, it might be a touchdown.''

Dougherty gained less than 30 yards in the second half and never mounted much of a threat in the final two quarters.

"We just have to keep fighting,'' said Hicks, who took over at Dougherty this year. "We can't get our heads down. It was a close game, but offensively, we just played badly.''

And Westover's defense was just right there all night.

"It wasn't one or two players,'' Jones said. "It was the whole defense. We were talking all week about getting a goose egg, and we got one.

"This is what this program needed. This is going to give us confidence. It's our cornerstone.''