The Owls were scoreless with Urbana through the first half of the season opener at Urbana on Friday but the Hawks used a third-quarter touchdown with 6:08 left to grab the lead.
Junior defensive back Ryan Clatterbuck, the Owls' interceptions leader in 2016, made his presence known when he picked off Urbana quarterback Kyle Howes' pass with 9:48 to play in the fourth. Three plays later, junior quarterback Christian Etchison found senior receiver Roman Hawkins for a 32-yard score to give the Owls the lead.
Both teams were handed unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on Urbana's next drive as the Hawks tried to pick up yardage. Owls' junior running back Jaden Louis, who had seven carries for 42 yards on the night, found the end zone on a 19-yard carry with 5:47 left to play.
The late score held up and Westminster prevailed 14-7 in its season opener.
The Hawks were hit with a series of penalties in the second quarter but freshman quarterback Kyle Howes found senior running back Jar'en Kenyatta on second-and-32 from the 30-yard line for a 13-yard gain. Howes attempted a pass deep into the Owls' zone on the Hawks next drive but it was picked off by Owls senior defensive back Cole Prodehl with 6:35 left in the half.
Owls' senior quarterback Chase Birdow was sacked on the first drive, but defensive back Christian Etchison and Birdow picked up carries of three and four yards on the following drives — still short of a first down.
A three-and-out for the Hawks resulted in a 55-yard punt return to the Hawks' 18 yard line by Owls' junior Tavian Montgomery, a transfer from Century. A five-yard penalty brought the Owls back to the 23 and on 4th-and-3 from the 17, sophomore Evan Warren made a 34-yard field goal attempt but it was no good.
The Owls picked off not one, but two more passes in the last five minutes of the game to hold on to their lead, a credit to senior captain Max Sommerville and TJ Schatz — Schatz's interception sealed the deal for the Owls with 27 seconds on the clock.
Friday's game marked the first meeting on opposite sidelines for Westminster coach Matt Study and Urbana coach Brad Wilson. Wilson coached at Westminster from 2004-14, and guided the Owls to a Class 3A state championship game appearance in 2005.