Westwood Horizon

Warriors Slay the Dragons 45-41

By Connor Cowman, Community & World Editor

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Varsity football players line up during the national anthem.

Prior to 1992, Round Rock ISD had only two high schools within its bounds: Round Rock High School and Westwood High School. This led to the schools, which were separated by a railroad track, competing often and eventually forming a rivalry with one another. Thus, the Battle of the Bell was born; an annual football game between the Dragons and the Warriors. The prize for this prestigious and time-honored competition is not only glory, but a bell from the same railroad track that previously divided the only two high schools in RRISD.

Since 2013 the Warriors had not possessed the legendary bell, but on the night of Oct. 27, 2017 at the Kelly Reeves Athletic Stadium (KRAC), the Warriors won back the esteemed prize with a final score of 45-41.

Following an uproarious charge from the teepee, the Warriors, starting off with the ball, came on strong. Multiple unstoppable drives from Jaikem Murphy ‘18, and a pass from quarterback Will Jennings ‘18 to Cameron Thomas ‘18, allowed the Warriors to kick a field goal with 8:15 on the clock. Then through multiple plays, defenders Reed Harrington ‘18 and Joel Navarro ‘18 managed to hold back the Dragons for quite some time, though the opposition eventually scored a touchdown with the extra point. However, the Dragon’s sense of victory was short-lived; for it was immediately after the Dragons had scored and the ball had been kicked back to the Warriors that Thomas charged across the field for an 80-yard touchdown, making the score 10-7 with the Warriors now in the lead.

The Dragons unfortunately hit their stride after Thomas’ touchdown, and despite a 36-yard drive from Murphy and valiant defense as a whole, the first quarter was closed out with a score of 10-21 in favor of the Dragons.

“We solidified our brotherhood on defense in this game,” Ethan Brown ‘19 said. “That’s something we have struggled with all year, but now we are ready to roll.”

The second quarter began with the ball in the Warriors’ possession once again, though this was not the case for long; with 11:00 on the clock, Thomas scored his second touchdown of the night via a pass to him in the end-zone, making the score 17-21. About two minutes into the quarter, Navarro was unfortunately caught in a bad position and escorted off the field to the cheering support of the crowd, though he remained on the sidelines for the rest of the game in support of his team.

Another three minutes passed on the scoreboard and, even with stalwart defense from the Warriors, the Dragons managed to score another touchdown without the extra point. However, even if they were behind at this point (17-27), the Warriors managed to push forward. Following a 30-yard pass from Jennings to Matt Pravednikov ‘19 and a 23-yard drive from Murphy, the Warriors got the ball to the one yard line with a time of 0:01 on the clock. The tensions were high but so was the determination of the team, and in the last play of the first half, Thomas scored his third touchdown of the night and made the score 24-27.

At halftime, both the Round Rock Dragons and the Westwood Warrior bands performed their magnificent marching routines. The SunDancers and Warrior Pride stunned the crowd with their skillful performance, while naming Tiffany Nguyen ‘18 SunDancer of the Week. During this time, both teams rested and collected their thoughts, eventually returning to the field with electric vigor.

Opening with the ball on the 31-yard line opposite their end-zone, the Dragons managed to push all the way forward for another touchdown at 9:23, solidifying the score as 24-34. This was the Dragons’ only score of the quarter, however, as the Warriors managed to fend off their opponents from scoring further. Tackles from Brown, which he described as him simply “doing his part in a bigger process”, Harrington, and Will Clitheroe ‘19 were what held the Dragons off, making way for a fourth quarter of redemption.

While it was the Dragons who possessed the ball at the very beginning of the fourth quarter, it was Clitheroe who caught the ball from a fumble recovery with only five seconds elapsed.

“I just felt I had to go in there and scoop it up,” Clitheroe said later. “I had help from my team, and it was just a great feeling all around.”

This crucial recovery allowed for Thomas to run the ball 21 yards just 10 seconds later (11:45), and for Pravednikov to advance 19 yards further — both plays weakening the Dragons’ defensive morale. Then, despite a sack from Clitheroe once the Dragons had the ball, the Dragons scored their final touchdown of the night at 6:10, making the score 24-41 with the extra point.

It was likely that this touchdown was the last straw for the Warriors. With a sudden second wind sweeping up underneath them, the team rocketed into the latter portion of the quarter with a newfound sense of determination. Thomas, after running 64 yards, scored his fourth touchdown of the night; Dylan Frazier ‘18 acquired another fumble recovery; and after less than a minute had elapsed on the clock since his previous touchdown, Thomas — catching a Hail Mary pass from Jennings — scored once again.

The score was 38-41, and while the possibility of victory was not lost, the Warriors still had a ways to go. When the Dragons eventually regained possession of the ball, the Warriors were not deterred; Brown executed another sack, Murphy made multiple tackles, and Luca Mazzola ‘19 brought down the ball carrier.

It was with 2:35 illuminating the stadium that the Warriors secured the ball once more, this time on the 50-yard line. In these final moments of the game, it seemed that quarterback Jennings hit his most influential stride, first passing the ball to Thomas on the 37-yard line, then tearing through the Dragons’ defense all the way to the 14-yard line. 1:10 was on the clock, and with a Warrior victory so close, the crowd was roaring. Multiple drives were made, the Warriors inching ever closer to the end-zone. Finally, with only 17 seconds left on the clock and the Warriors on the one yard line, Jennings through himself forwards and vaulted over the defenders, scoring the final touchdown of the game — 45-41.

“I’m very happy that we took care of our rival in this game,” Coach Anthony Wood said. “It’s an amazing thing to come back from 17 points under, and I’m very proud of the team. For now, we’re just going to enjoy this win.”

With this victory for the Warriors, the 2017 Battle of the Bell was concluded. A hard-fought competition though it was, the bell now returns to the Warriors after all these years, echoing its chimes throughout the halls in a song of victory.

The Warriors step onto the field again on Nov. 3, 2017 at PISD Stadium against the Pflugerville Panthers at 7 p.m..

About the Writer
Connor Cowman, Community & World Editor
As a senior at Westwood High School, this will be my second year on Student Press and my first year as World News Editor. Over the course of this year I hope to encourage those writing stories regarding world news to be as curious as possible, as efficient as can be, and as creative as their hearts desire. My goal is to report on important events happening all around the world and localize them to our small sphere here in Austin in order to be as relevant as possible. Most of all, however, I aim to provide the truth for the readers of this online paper.
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