Football: Christian Etchison returns for Westminster, Owls clinch 3A West playoff berth

Football: Christian Etchison returns for Westminster, Owls clinch 3A West playoff berth
Westminster quarterback Christian Etchison looks to pass. (Ken Koons/Carroll County Times)

Westminster players formed a tunnel from the far end zone to midfield and watched one-by-one as their senior teammates were recognized over the loudspeakers.

A rainy night at Ruby Field didn’t halt Senior Night activities for Westminster, nor the Owls’ offensive attack.


Christian Etchison returned to the field for the first time in three weeks, and took little time to make his mark.

The senior quarterback overcame two first-quarter fumbles and totaled four touchdowns — three passing and one rushing — as Westminster captured a crucial 43-12 win over county rival South Carroll.

Westminster (7-3, 5-1 in the county) entered Friday night’s matchup needing a win to secure a postseason berth in the Class 3A West Region.

Torrential downpour conditions turned Ruby Field into a large puddle, forcing sloppy play throughout four quarters. The teams combined for three fumbles in the first 12 minutes, but Westminster settled in and found its offensive rhythm.

Etchison took a quarterback keeper with 10:08 left in the second quarter and outran the entire Cavaliers’ defense with eyes on the end zone. His 53-yard touchdown run gave Westminster a 7-0 lead.

On their ensuing drive, Etchison found Tavian Montgomery on a short bubble pass and the skilled senior receiver did the rest. Montgomery ran untouched 68 yards up the right side of the field to double the Owls’ lead.

Etchison added a 3-yard touchdown run with just over one minute before halftime as Westminster extended their lead to 21-0.

The Owls originally lined up for a field-goal attempt on fourth down, but ran a fake. Kicker Evan Warren ran left, pitched the ball to Etchison, and he found a wide open receiver just a few yards shy of the goal line.

Weather conditions worsened early in the second half. Home and opposing fans scattered, but the players held their ground as points ensued.

After forcing a South Carroll three-and-out, Westminster struck quickly. They needed just two plays as Etchison found Ryan Clatterbuck wide open for a 27-yard touchdown.

Jaden Louis broke off a 67-yard run through the middle of the field early in the fourth quarter as defenders struggled to find any footing in the mud. Erick Stranko added a late 5-yard touchdown to extend Westminster’s lead with minutes left to play.

South Carroll (5-5, 3-3) relied on the run game of Mason Gavin and T.J. Hogan for most of the night. The Cavaliers engineered a 71-yard drive late in the third quarter, capped off by a 3-yard quarterback keeper from Gavin to get on the board.

The senior scored both of SC’s touchdowns, and found the end zone on a 5-yard run with 8:16 left in the fourth quarter.

Friday marked the 51st matchup between the county rivals, and their heated series showed. Chippy play in the first half drew multiple personal foul penalties as yellow flags flew.


With the win, the Owls took a 32-19 all-time series lead.

South Carroll posted a non-losing record under first-year coach Mike Kraus. The Cavaliers improve from a 2-8 mark in 2017.

Westminster awaits official playoff seeding in the meantime as the Owls’ quest for a state championship begins next week.

South Carroll 0 0 6 6 — 12

Westminster 0 21 14 8 — 43


W-Christian Etchison 53 run (Evan Warren kick)

W-Tavian Montgomery 68 pass from Etchison (Warren kick)

W-Etchison 3 run (Warren kick)

W-Ryan Clatterbuck 27 pass from Etchison (Conversion failed)

SC-Mason Gavin 3 run (Conversion failed)

W-Jaden Louis 67 run (Conversion failed)

SC-Gavin 5 run (Conversion failed)

W-Erick Stranko 5 run (Conversion good)