Westminster football coach Matt Study said his team’s preparation this week for Francis Scott Key wasn’t different from any of the previous weeks.
Study and his staff likely didn’t need a ton of scouting reports to get ready for a Francis Scott Key team that had three wins in its first four games. The Eagles and their Wing-T offense rely on long possessions that usually eat up the clock and churn out yards on the ground.
It’s a contrast to the Owls’ style that relies on speed that leads to big-play opportunities.
Both methods were on display Thursday night. Study and his fellow coaches walked off the field at Key seemingly thankful for their skills.
Westminster started strong and held off a charging Eagles unit to win 36-14 and improve to 4-1 as the regular season reached its midway point.
The Owls (2-0 in the county) scored on offensive plays of 28 and 66 yards, while the defense added touchdowns of 76 and 105 yards to dash Key’s hopes of a comeback.
Freshman running back Erik Stanko, in his first career start, ran for 157 yards on 14 carries. His 66-yard dash up the middle got Westminster on the board on its second play from scrimmage — the Eagles started the game on a 13-play drive that stalled at the Owls’ 21-yard line.
Westminster quarterback Christian Etchison only needed 80 passing yards, but the junior threw a 28-yard scoring strike to Logan Nave in the first quarter.
Francis Scott Key (3-2, 0-2) later crafted a 15-play drive, led by senior running back Nate Imes and his wing mates. And the Eagles were past midfield late in the second quarter, but Tavian Montgomery intercepted quarterback Jake Pirrung deep in his own end and raced 76 yards for a defensive score that gobbled up all the momentum for the visitors.
Imes finished with 147 yards and two touchdowns, and FSK recovered an onside kick late in the fourth quarter during its comeback attempt. But it wasn’t enough to complete the rally.
“Their coaching staff had a great game plan,” Study said. “We made mistakes … it’s two different teams there, the team that showed up in the first half and that second-half team.”
Key got to the Owls’ 16 in the final seconds before Pirrung (76 passing yards) heaved a pass into the end zone. Lewis snared the ball and had a clear lane down his team’s sideline for a dazzling play to put a cap on the scoring.
Stanko, Nave, Montgomery, and Lewis — each player made his big play count for Westminster. Etchison said he’s impressed with Stanko’s resolve despite being a ninth-grader playing varsity.
“When he got pulled up, he got right to work,” Etchison said about Stanko, who ran well last week in a win over Manchester Valley. “We run the same offenses [at every level], but varsity is different. … He’s a grinder.”
Westminster 14 8 7 7 — 36
Francis Scott Key 0 0 0 14 — 14
W-Erik Stanko 66 run (Evan Warren kick)
W-Logan Nave 28 pass from Christian Etchison (Warren kick)
W-Tavian Montgomery 76 interception return (Aaron Golberg pass from Nathan Kent)
W-Nave 6 pass from Etchison (Warren kick)
FSK-Nate Imes 11 run (Imes run)
FSK-Imes 1 run (run failed)
W-Zane Lewis 105 interception return (Warren kick)