Freshman Football Seals Victory in Last Seconds of Game Over McNeil

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  • Luke Espersen ‘26 hands off the ball to Jack Kelley ‘26. After the handoff, Kelley was able to gain several yards before getting stopped by Stony Point’s defense.

  • Josh Hanson ‘26 kicks the ball downfield to Stony Point players. “I feel like we could’ve blocked better on the offensive line and we could have been better with our defensive awareness,” Hanson said.

  • Asher David ‘26 runs the ball up the field as his teammates follow close behind. David gained several yards for the Warriors before getting stopped by Stony Point’s defense.

  • Coach Casey Horny lectures the Warriors during a time-out in the last quarter. By the fourth quarter, the Warriors were already down and were being advised to keep a tighter defense.

  • Nathan Taparausks ‘26 gets tackled down by Stony Point. Taparausks caught the ball and gained several yards for the Warriors before getting tackled.

  • The Warriors display good sportsmanship while high-fiving Stony Point players after a loss. The Warriors lost 29-15.

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Trying to add a bright spot to an up-and-down season, the freshman football team clashed with the rivaling McNeil Mavericks, and with the help of some last-second heroics, the Warriors came out on top, winning 26-20.

The Warriors kicked off to start the game, and thanks to some nice tackling by Matthew Bock ‘26 and a fumbled snap, the Warriors started the game on a high note forcing a Maverick punt. However, an unfortunately placed punt led to a muffed fumble for the Warriors and set up McNeil with prime field position still early on with five minutes in the first quarter. Both sides, however, had turnover struggles through the first half, and McNeil gave the ball right back to Westwood with another fumble and ended the first quarter scoreless.

Finally able to get their chance to play on offense, the Warriors hoped to get off to a strong start, but after an early turnover on downs, they found themselves right back on defense in their own territory. Despite some nice tackling from the Warrior defensive front, including a tackle for loss made by defender Jaden Magill ‘26, McNeil ran the ball in for a score taking a 6-0 lead midway through the quarter. Luckily to some trickery from the Warriors, a quick one-play drive led to a reverse touchdown pass to a wide-open Andreas Fisher ‘26. The struggles kept coming for McNeil, who gave it right back to Westwood with 1:25 left in the second quarter. Trying to take the lead before the half, the Warriors came out firing, completing multiple passes to Fisher on the sideline, who took one to the house, giving Westwood a 14-6 lead at halftime.

“It [was] definitely my best game of the season,” Fisher said. “It was my first time scoring a touchdown this season. Everything we had practiced during the season, I kind of knew it was coming.¨

The second half began with some fireworks for Westwood. On their first drive of the half, the Warriors converted another trick play when Fisher received a backwards pass by quarterback Kye Bridges ‘26 and scored a touchdown, making the score 20-6. However, this didn’t stop the Maverick offense, who, on the next drive, scored a touchdown to cut the lead to just six, making the score at the end of the third quarter 20-14.

The fourth quarter was tense for both teams as Westwood looked to hold on for a win, and McNeil looked to complete a comeback and steal a win away from the Warriors. The next drive started well for the Warrior defense, who came out with a sack by Michael Rodriguez ‘24, but a long touchdown pass by the Mavericks set them up to tie the game at 20 after missing the two-point conversion attempt due to a fumble. The Warriors were looking for a spark with only 3:30 left in the half, and they did not have to do much because Colten Case ‘26 took the kickoff to the house, giving the Warriors a reason to celebrate with only 3:18 left in the game, making the score 26-20 Warriors. McNeil took the field for their last attempt at winning the game and began with some nice running to set them up near the Warrior 45-yard line. The Maverick run game kept up its heroics with a 45-yard touchdown run that McNeil believed had won them the game, but after an illegal block in the back was called back, McNeil was left scoreless. A Warrior interception with 30 seconds left in the game sealed the victory and left McNeil stunned over such a heartbreaking loss.

“It was a lot of fun,” Case said. “You aren’t really thinking about it all that much, you are just trying to run with the ball, but [scoring] was really good.”

The Warriors will play their last game of the season on Wednesday, Nov. 2, against Vandegrift at the Warrior Bowl.