With 11 inches of rain in the past week turning the Westminster field into mush, Wildcats defensive lineman Josh Jackson spent Friday night fighting through four quarters of wet shoes and muddy turf.
Jackson and his defensive teammates used the field conditions to their advantage, scoring a pair of second-half touchdowns to pull free from Curtis Baptist, 21-6.
“It’s terrible,” Jackson said of the soggy field. “My shoes are soaked.”
Trey Newton blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone midway through the third quarter for Westminster, while Jackson scored five minutes later on a 38-yard interception return. The Wildcats (1-0) pushed a two-point halftime lead to 15, a margin large enough for the Westminster defense to hold.
The Wildcats recorded nine sacks and limited Curtis Baptist to just 52 total yards. The Crusaders, with 16 players listed on the roster, gained just 24 rushing yards on 37 carries.
“I’m very proud of the defense and the way they played,” Westminster coach Andrew Bryan said. “We knew the attack Curtis was going to bring to us, and they’ve got some good athletes. We knew we were going to have to play well.”
The main highlight for Curtis Baptist (0-1) came at the end of the first quarter. Daniel Minter sacked Tim Nabholz for a 14-yard loss on second down. On third down – the referees missed a down because of a penalty – Caleb Minter blocked Chris Cawley’s punt. The ball was recovered on the Westminster 5. Two plays later, Daniel Minter busted through the middle for a two-yard touchdown. After the failed conversion run, the Crusaders trailed 8-6. They wouldn’t come close to scoring again.
In the third quarter, Newton rushed through the middle on fourth down and blocked Christian Reid’s punt at the goal line. The ball squirted around the end zone and Newton, trailing the play, fell on it for his first career touchdown.
“I saw there was a big gap and I thought I could squeeze through it,” the senior lineman said. “The ball was all wet and I just hopped on it. It was just good luck.”
Westminster’s offense recorded just 133 total yards on 48 plays. But defense came up big again late in the third quarter when Jackson stepped in front of a Reid pass and rumbled untouched into the end zone.