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First-half struggles doom McCutcheon against Westfield

October 8, 2012
McCutcheon High School

Westfield scored touchdowns on its first four series and recovered two fumbles to turn back potential McCutcheon drives en route to a 34-16 Hoosier Crossroads Conference football victory at Ellison Stadium Friday night.

Westfield snapped its five-game losing streak while extending McCutcheon’s skid to three.

The Shamrocks compiled 446 yards in total offense, most of that in the first half as quarterback Nick Ferrer completed 15 of 17 passes for 200 yards.

“In the first half they could do anything they wanted to do,” McCutcheon coach Ken Frauhiger said. “There were times where we looked pretty good, but there was always a mistake that slowed the drive down or got us behind. That was a real problem for us tonight.”

The Mavericks did move the ball against Westfield, especially on the ground. Nate Deno rushed for 163 yards on 13 carries, included a 56-yard touchdown run around left end in the fourth quarter. But the Shamrocks had a comfortable lead by that time.

“We just needed to win,” Westfield coach Jake Gilbert said. “We lost five in a row by very small margins. We take great pride in starting fast, but we have to work on our finishes. Deno can start for anybody in the conference. It’s a step forward for us because we beat a good football team.”

Westfield’s no-huddle offense left little time for McCutcheon to catch its breath in the first half. Westfield played field position to get its first touchdown, forcing McCutcheon to punt from its own 5 on the Mavericks’ first series and taking the ball on the McCutcheon 30 after a short punt.

Ferrer connected with tight end Cole McCrary on an 18-yard pass to set up his 1-yard run for Westfield’s first score with 8:04 left.

McCutcheon drove to the Westfield 21, helped by a 30-yard pass from Mavs quarterback Matt Marencik to Jack Beeker. But Westfield defensive lineman Dan Liebbe recovered a Mavericks fumble to kill the drive.

“It’s disappointing we’re still seeing those things, but we have gotten better offensively,” Frauhiger said. “We can hang our hat on that. We’ve got to get better and stop making those mistakes. We have three weeks before sectionals.”

Westfield executed a flea-flicker play to perfection, with Ferrer getting the ball back after two handoffs and passing to a wide-open Kory Kostecka for a 59-yard completion to set up the Shamrocks’ second TD. Devin Reece hauled in a tipped Ferrer pass in the end zone at the 5:36 mark, but Westfield’s extra point was blocked.

The Shamrocks went long distance on its next two scoring drives, going 90 yards on 12 plays and then 91 yards on 13 plays. Westfield nibbled away with mid-range Ferrer passes, while running back Frank Grimes did most of the damage on the ground.

Grimes rushed for 115 yards on 18 carries. Ferrer completed 19 of 23 passes for 225 yards.

Westfield opened the third quarter with a 10-play, 59-yard drive, ending on Grimes’ 4-yard reception from Ferrer to give the Shamrocks a 34-0 lead.

McCutcheon, behind the running of Blake Elming, drove to the Westfield 14 before the Shamrocks’ Mitch Turley recovered a Maverick fumble to kill the drive.

The Mavericks scored all of their points in the fourth quarter, starting when a bad Westfield punt snap went out of the end zone for a safety. After a kickoff return by Deno and a Shamrock personal foul, Elming scored on a 16-yard reverse with 8:34 left to play.

Deno rushed for 80 yards on McCutcheon’s next drive, including his 56-yard touchdown run.

“We have to get some more consistency and keep working at it,” Frauhiger said. “They were defending the pass pretty well, so we tried running it. They have a good football team. They are big, strong and fast and that’s hard to come back from.”

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