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Football: Westminster routs Winters Mill to close out regular season on seven-game win streak

Westminster entered Friday’s city showdown with Winters Mill unbeaten through six games, and the Owls made sure to keep that streak alive to close out the regular season.

The Carroll County Athletic League champions defeated the Falcons 45-14 at Ruby Field to close out the regular season undefeated in county play — they also improved to 12-1 in their all-time series against the Falcons.

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Owls senior running back Nate Mattingly notched 14 carries for 52 yards and two touchdowns (unofficial), and junior running back Erick Stranko had 11 carries for 111 yards and two TDs.

Winters Mill recovered a Westminster fumble early in the first quarter, and Falcons senior quarterback Matheo Cuenca found junior receiver Cam Vogel for a 14-yard pickup on the team’s first play. Cuenca threw three incomplete passes before the Falcons were forced to punt the ball away.

Stranko broke through the Falcons’ defense for a 44-yard touchdown and senior kicker Evan Warren kicked the extra point to give the Owls a 7-0 lead.

The Owls (7-2, 6-0 CCAL) recovered a fumble from Cuenca on the Falcons’ next drive — Mattingly led the team’s next drive and punched in a 1-yard touchdown to give the Owls a 14-0 lead with 5:53 left in the first quarter.

Westminster forced a three-and-out for Winters Mill and Stranko carried the Falcons’ defense with him for a 15-yard gain. Warren attempted a 28-yard field goal that went just wide of the posts.

Cuenca found Vogel for an 11-yard touchdown in the left corner of the end zone. Vogel got his foot down, but fell out of bounds with the ball. Senior kicker Alex Carr’s extra point gave the Falcons their seventh point, and a seven-point deficit.

The motivation was high for Winters Mill when the Falcons recovered a Westminster onside kick, but Owls junior receiver Austin Bainbridge intercepted Cuenca’s first pass of the Falcons’ next drive to get the ball right back.

The Owls capitalized on an 83-yard drive when junior quarterback Jalen Bradford found Bainbridge for a 79-yard touchdown, and Warren kicked a 39-yard field goal under four minutes later after Westminster’s Colby Cotoia recovered a fumble from Cuenca.

Stranko intercepted his first pass of the season as the second quarter neared its end with the Owls leading 24-7.

Mattingly notched another 1-yard TD for the Owls, and senior linebacker Conner Covey intercepted a Winters Mill pass to set up another short scoring run for Stranko. The Falcons (4-5, 2-4) responded with a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown from Will Tobias to trim the deficit 38-14 with 4:08 left in the third quarter.

Westminster junior running back Christian Heck notched a 19-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, and Warren’s sixth extra point of the night gave the Owls a 45-14 lead.

Cuenca threw 34 receptions for 112 yards and one touchdown and Vogel caught four passes for 37 yards and a touchdown for the Falcons (unofficial).

Westminster was in position to qualify for the Class 3A East playoffs before Friday’s game, while Winters Mill was battling for one of the final spots in 2A West.

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