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Bounce back: Pats rebound from two straight losses, trounce rival Trojans, 47-0

Westover receiver Jackie Childs, left, catches a touchdown pass over Dougherty defender Amaud Ross during Saturday’s city rivalry showdown at Hugh Mills. (Larry G. Williams/Special to The Herald)

Westover receiver Jackie Childs, left, catches a touchdown pass over Dougherty defender Amaud Ross during Saturday’s city rivalry showdown at Hugh Mills. (Larry G. Williams/Special to The Herald)

ALBANY -- It was a night for talking about lawyers on the Seinfeld show and quarterbacks who wear No. 82, a night for counting interceptions and goose eggs, a night to remember for Westover's Patriots, who left Hugh Mills Stadium on Saturday talking about all that and more.

"This is the first step to winning the region title and to winning the state title,'' said Westover receiver Jackie Childs after the Patriots hammered Dougherty, 47-0, in the Region 1-AAA opener for both teams. "No doubt about it, we're going to the Dome,'' he added with a smile.

Childs is no attorney, but his name sounds so much like the famous lawyer, Jackie Chiles from the Seinfeld show, that the Westover junior had to object to the comparisons.

"I'm the best Jackie Childs,'' he said. "The Childs with the 'ds' at the end, not the 'es' at the end. I know who he is. He's a lawyer. I'm the receiver. I'm the best Jackie Childs.''

Objection sustained.

It was such a one-sided game that by the end of the night there was a running clock and No. 82 was playing quarterback for Westover. That's right, No. 82.

Sophomore Ta'Keevian Harris might be the only QB in the nation who wears No. 82. He wasn't even listed on the roster. He's Westover's junior varsity quarterback, and he did complete two passes for 26 yards. But that No. 82 just looked out of place.

"I lost a bet,'' Harris said. "That's why I wear 82. I bet I would score a touchdown in a JV game and lost the bet and had to change numbers with the guy I lost the bet with.''

It was that kind of night for the Patriots, a complete romp from start to finish.

After Saturday, Westover can rest its case.

Any objections?

None from the Patriots' defense that not only racked up Westover's first shutout of the season, but got into the scoring. That's not new at Westover. The Pats' D has scored in four of five games this season, including twice on Saturday.

Childs, who caught two passes for 54 yards in the first quarter, including an 11-yard beauty for a touchdown, helped start the rout as the Patriots quickly built a 21-0 lead.

Shannon Saunders, a sophomore who was starting in place of Dalviness Greene, scored on a 25-yard run, and then T.J. Wester hit Childs with the TD pass to give the Pats a 14-0 lead with 4:38 left in the first quarter.

Greene, who didn't start because of a discipline problem, entered the game on the final play of the first quarter, and broke free for an 18-yard TD run as time expired to lift Westover to a 21-0 lead. Saunders scored on a 49-yard TD run with 2:46 left in the half and finished with 84 yards on just six carries, and Greene scored on a 3-yard TD run midway in the third.

Greene, who gained 624 yards in the first four games, finished the night early with 54 yards on 11 carries and two TDs.

The defense took over in the third quarter.

Kenny Byrd blocked a punt, and Jay Cunningham scooped up the ball and raced 20 yards for a TD to lift Westover to a 34-0 lead. It was fitting. Cunningham blocked a punt last week to set up a TD.

Three plays later, Westover defensive back Anthony Hill, who has made big plays all season, picked off a pass at the 15 and returned it six yards to the Dougherty 9-yard line. Greene punched in the TD to make it 40-0, and before you could say "running clock," Kell Miller picked off a pass and returned it 50 yards for a 47-0 lead.

"I just saw nothing but the end zone. I saw a touchdown,'' said Miller, who leads Westover with three interceptions. Hill has two and Jamal Childs has two for the Patriots this season.

They now have 10 picks in five games.

"We're looking for bigger and better things,'' said Hill, pointing to titles ahead. "This was the first step toward our goal of being the region champs.''

It was impressive, and timely. Not only was it the Region 1-AAA opener and against a city rival, but it comes after two bitter losses -- a 23-20 triple overtime defeat to Class AAAA Bainbridge and a controversial 21-19 loss to Early County last week.

"We had to bounce back,'' Cunningham said. "We did. This game was really big because it's the first game in the region. The first game in the region is the most important game of the year.''

It is now. Westover (3-2) is 1-0 in the region after Round 1, tied with state-ranked Cairo and Americus-Sumter, which pulled off a stunning 36-29 win against Worth County on Friday after trailing 22-0. Westover plays Worth on Thursday.

"I think this game will help us prepare in the short week. I think we'll respond well in the short week,'' Westover coach Octavia Jones said. "(After those two tough losses) it felt real good to come back and win a game in such dominating fashion. It was good for our self esteem.''

And good for the standings and the chance to repeat as city champions. Westover is now 2-0 against city rivals and plays Monroe on the final week of the regular season. But Jones wants a lot more than another city title.

"We don't talk about the city championship,'' said Jones, who hasn't lost to a city rival since taking over at Westover last year. "Our goal is a region championship. The big thing coming into to this game was for our kids not to get caught up in the hype of the rivalry. It was more important because it was a region game. We're 1-0 and we're at the top with Cairo and Americus-Sumter.''

At the top with a defense that has been stingy all year. The Westover defense has given up only four touchdowns in regulation over the past four games.

That group, led by defensive tackle Chris Green, linebacker Don Mills and defensive Derrick Akins, who had three sacks, made life tough for Dougherty (0-1 and 1-4).

"We've just got to keep fighting,'' Dougherty coach Jesse Hicks said. "We've got to stop making mistakes. We can't quit. We've got to play better football.

"We're just not tackling,'' he added. "I'm not taking anything away from Westover. That's a good team. But we've got to play basic football. We're just not doing it. When you're not playing basic football, you're going to get beat like this.''