Westwood QB Mitch Good, right, tries to break a tackle by the Piedmont defense Friday night in Camilla. (Photo by Larry G. Williams/Special to The Herald)
CAMILLA — Ross Worsham likes to turn the cliché around.
“People say when you’re on top there’s just one place to go and that’s down,’’ Worsham likes to say. “They’re wrong. You can stay on top.’’
Turns out the Westwood football coach is right.
Just don’t tell Piedmont Academy.
In a game for the ages, Worsham’s Westwood kids pounded Piedmont, 40-21, on opening night with backups in the backfield and bulldozers disguised as offensive linemen.
If there’s a better offensive line in all of GISA, go ahead and raise your hand. Just don’t raise it too high. The Westwood’s kids might just knock it down.
They knocked everything else down Friday at Centennial Stadium, including Piedmont and the Cougars’ two-year winning streak.
It was a night for streaking.
Both teams put two-year, 26-game winning streaks on the line to open the season in a game everyone in GISA couldn’t wait to see. Piedmont won back-to-back GISA Class AA state titles, and Westwood, which moved up to Class AA this season, won back-to-back Class A state crowns.
Then they both put it all on the line.
“Keeping the streak meant a lot,’’ said Westwood tailback J. T. Edore, who was all but exhausted at the end of this one. “In the second half I was just giving it all I had left. This was big. The streak was on the line. Everybody gave it everything we had. Piedmont is a great team. It was a great game.’’
Edore gained 146 yards on 22 carries and scored two touchdowns, and was soaked to the bone when he walked off the field.
“He had a great game,’’ Worsham said. “He’s a workhorse. We kept it pretty simple, just running between the tackles. He did a great job.’’
Westwood took advantage of three Piedmont fumbles to take a 20-14 lead at halftime.
In the second half, the Wildcats then put the game away with a couple of run-it-down-your-throat-drives in the second half, giving a whole new meaning to the tern ball control.
The Wildcats drove 68 yards on 14 plays and ate up 8:13 off the clock to open the second half, scoring on quarterback Mitch Good’s fourth-down, 2-yard run to lift Westwood to a 27-14 lead. They put together another one in the fourth quarter, an 85-yard, 15-play drive that took another 7:50 off the clock.
“I felt like we never had the football,’’ Piedmont coach Rhett Farmer said. “We usually run 54-55 plays a game. I don’t think we ran 35.’’
The Cougars ran just 30 plays from scrimmage all night.
Those two drives were backbusters — make that streakbusters.
“That was huge, especially coming out in the second half and driving the ball down the field. That had to be a morale buster for them. You know they want to come out and stop us and score and get right back in the game, and we want to run the ball and take some time off the clock.’’
They ripped it off.
After the opening drive in the third, the Wildcats held Piedmont on downs at the Westwood 39. But Good, who also plays defense, left the field with cramps and didn’t return.
No problem. By the time Ralph Collins replaced him, there were two backups in the backfield. Dylon Smith had already replaced Chason Worsham, one of Westwood’s top tailbacks who gained 62 yards on eight carries and scored a TD in the first half .
“Those kids did a great job stepping in there,’’ Worsham said.
Smith rushed for 76 yards on 12 carries, and Collins ran for 33 on five carries and scored on a 1-yard run with 1:45 left in the game to put it away at 40-14.
“Give all the credit to the offensive line. They paved the way for me,’’ Collins said. “They made it easy.’’
Collins said he wasn’t nervous, despite the enormity of the game.
“No, I wasn’t,’’ he said. “I get half the reps in practice. Coach had me ready.’’
Westwood was ready all night.
Piedmont fumbled the ball on its first two possessions, and Chason Worsham scored on a 3-yard run. Piedmont then fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Ridge Collins returned the ball to the Piedmont 6-yard line. Edore scored on a 1-yard run. Piedmont closed to 20-14, but then fumbled a punt with 1:50 left in the half, and Good hit Jamie Davis on a fourth-and-five play for a 5-yard TD with a pass in the corner to make it 27-14.
“We talked about two things coming into this game,’’ Farmer said. “We talked about not making any stupid penalties and holding onto the football.
“We won the state title in 2010 and lost three fumbles all year. We won last year and lost two fumbles. We make a living holding onto the football. We didn’t hold onto it in this game.’’
Westwood’s defense stopped Piedmont most of the night and had nine plays for either no gain or negative yards.
Peter Lawson, who gained more than 1,200 yards and was The Macon Telegraph’s GISA Middle Georgia Player of the Year last year, took the first handoff of the night, and Johnny Hendricks, a sophomore, smacked him for no gain.
The tone was set.
Lawson provided all the offense for Piedmont. He had a 43-yard gain that — along with a face-mask penalty — set up Piedmont’s first score, and he threw a halfback option pass for a 47-yard TD to Gavin Edge. Westwood wasn’t fooled on the play. Ridge Collins was there and tipped the ball — but it skipped off his hands right into Edge’s lap.
Lawson, who was stopped five times for no gain or a loss, also had a 46-yard run to the 1-yard line to set up Hunter Knox’s 1-yard run with 7.7 seconds left in the game. He finished with 89 yards on 12 carries.
Farmer left with a look ahead.
“The streak is over. I guess we can start a new one next week,” he said.
Worsham will take the momentum.
“We beat a real good team from Piedmont to keep the streak alive, and that should really boost our confidence going into the game next week at Stratford. We’re going to need it,” he said. “A lot of people said we shouldn’t play this game (with both of us being unbeaten for two years). It says a lot for both teams to risk it. It was big. The streak is still alive.’
Ridge Collins said it best for Westwood.
He ran off the field at the end of the game and shouted: “27-and-0! That sure has a ring to it!’’