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Westover moves within a game of region crown

Westover quarterback Ta’Keevian Harris drops back for a pass during Saturday night’s win against Dougherty. The Herald No. 3 Patriots are now one win from clinching the program’s first Region 1-AAAA title. (Staff photo: John Millikan)

Westover quarterback Ta’Keevian Harris drops back for a pass during Saturday night’s win against Dougherty. The Herald No. 3 Patriots are now one win from clinching the program’s first Region 1-AAAA title. (Staff photo: John Millikan)

ALBANY — Tanner Stumpe sat his kicking tee on the left hash mark, then boomed a 35-yard field goal with 5:32 left in the opening quarter.

Somehow with Westover’s reputation on defense, you knew that would be all the points the Patriots would need.

Herald No. 3 Westover flexed its muscles Saturday night, building a big first-half lead and cruising to a 31-6 victory over Dougherty at Hugh Mills Stadium. The Patriots moved within one game of clinching the Region 1-AAAA title. They can win the title outright with a victory next Friday against Worth County regardless of their outcome against Albany High in their regular-season finale on Nov. 9.

Westover (6-2, 5-0 Region 1-AAAA) used Stumpe’s field goal, then three touchdown passes from Ta’Keevian Harris to take a commanding lead. Harris connected with Ervin Bush on a 14-yard strike with 7:41 left in the second quarter, then found Cleatus Hopkins for a 38-yard scoring pass after Anthony Morgan’s interception flipped the field position in the first half.

Meanwhile, the Patriots’ defense allowed Dougherty just 34 yards of total offense in the first half.

“My hat is off to our defense,” Westover coach Octavia Jones said. “Week in and week out, they’re doing what they’re supposed to do.”

It was a “feel-good” night for the Patriots, who were never seriously challenged after Dougherty shut them down on their opening possession. The Trojans beat the Patriots on the line of scrimmage early but couldn’t maintain their foothold as Westover dominated. Dougherty (0-8, 0-5) never got past the Patriots’ 47-yard line in the first two quarters.

The Trojans managed 195 yards of total offense, including 95 yards rushing from LaDerrien Royal. The bottom line for Dougherty was that it gave up too many points early and never recovered.

“You look at our defense and they didn’t quit,” Dougherty coach Corey Joyner said. “We had guys around the ball. We had a couple of mishaps and gave up 17 points that we shouldn’t have given up. But one thing we talked about was having character. I’m always proud of them.”

About the only thing Jones could complain about was a late fumble in the third quarter that Dougherty’s Alton Fisher scooped up, setting up the Trojans’ only score. Dougherty moved 39 yards on eight plays with Royal dashing 11 yards for a score with 9:06 left.

“I though our guys did an excellent job (Saturday),” Jones said. “These guys understand the ramifications of each game, which is what we have to do to be a championship-style football team.”

Christopher O’Neal hauled in a 21-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter as the Patriots extended their lead to 24-0, then Quintavious Moran added a 49-yard gallop to build an insurmountable advantage.