Football: Westminster sets tone on ground, gashes Urbana
By Joe Schiller
Carroll County Times|
Sep 01, 2018 | 9:00 PM
Jaden Louis had his sights on the end zone.
After failing to find it in the first half, the Westminster senior running back took the hand off from quarterback Christian Etchison in the third quarter, shook off multiple Urbana defenders, and barreled his way down the right side of the field a 47-yard touchdown.
Louis rushed for a game-high 119 yards on 14 carries, leading the way for Westminster in a big ground game as the Owls handled Urbana 43-7 on Saturday at Ruby Field.
Westminster accounted for more than 200 rushing yards in its opener, mostly a different style than the one fans saw in 2017 when the Owls relied on an aerial attack to a county title and Class 3A West regional final berth.
“It felt great to come back and score,” Louis said.
First-game nerves were one thing heading into Friday night, but a slew of rainouts across the state forced many teams to kick off one day later.
That didn’t seem to affect the Owls as they capped off a nine-play, 56-yard opening-game drive, with a 7-yard touchdown run from Erick Stranko.
But a sloppy first quarter from both sides drew penalties, missed blocks and miscues, something Westminster coach Matt Study said he knows his team needs to clean up.
“We had to bear down a little bit,” Study said. “I think the humidity and the heat … You get them all pumped up Friday night then you get that layover … [But] they responded. They’ve been responding when we’ve been at practice so that was the big thing we were on them about.”
Westminster settled down mid-way through the second quarter and Etchison connected with receiver Ryan Clatterbuck on a 10-yard touchdown to take a 14-0 lead. Urbana quickly answered with a score on the ensuing kickoff return to trim the deficit, but it would be the Hawks’ lone points
Jacob Busic and Joe Parry were active on the defensive front throughout the entire game. The duo created consistent pressure on the Hawks’ offensive line and Kyle Homes, forcing the sophomore quarterback to make most of his plays outside of the pocket.
Despite a run-heavy approach, Etchison still found plenty of success through the air. The senior quarterback went 5 for 8 for 147 passing yards and three touchdowns while adding 62 rushing yards
“That’s got to be a key of ours,” said Etchison, on the ground game. “Last year, opponents started reading our pass … and we didn’t have much of a run game to fall back on. So this year we’re really focused on our run game and power through that.”
Etchison added that it makes his job that much easier to get the ball over the top of the defense with a committed rushing attack.
The Owls took a 22-7 lead with a 26-yard touchdown reception from Tavian Montgomery and the offensive onslaught continued.