Every time Westside needed a big play Friday night, the Patriots got it, especially from DeMarcus Vaughn.
The junior running back broke off a pair of momentum-shifting runs en route to 201 rushing yards as Westside opened region play with a resounding 36-14 win over Dublin.
“Saying we’re 1-0 in region play, that ain’t enough,” Vaughn said. “Our goal is to make the playoffs, and we’re going to do it.”
Halfway through the season, Westside (4-1) has already matched last year’s win total. The Patriots notched their first victory over Dublin in four tries dating back to 1998, picking up a key Region 3-AA win.
“We’re coming from 1-9 a couple of years ago to hoping to sneak into the playoffs,” Westside coach Steve Hibbitts said. “Beating a quality team like this, it just gives the kids confidence. I want them to be able to know they can play with anybody when they get on the field, and on top of that, beat anybody.”
Westside bounced back from a loss last week to Lakeside with a ball control running attack that dominated the first half. Vaughn carried the ball just 11 times in the game, but he scored three touchdowns and broke off runs of 97 and 64 yards.
With Westside backed up on third down at its 3-yard line midway through the second quarter, Vaughn bolted through a huge hole in the middle, shot right and darted down the field to stake the Patriots to a 17-0 lead.
Dublin (0-5), which posted just four of its 16 first downs in the first half, trailed 23-0 in the third when it got its running game rolling. Johnny Willis scored on a pair of rushing touchdowns to pull the Irish within nine with 8:38 left in the game.
On Westside’s next possession, though, Vaughn blasted through the middle for a 64-yard run. Two plays later, he went in off left tackle for a 15-yard score.Westside led 29-14.
On Dublin’s next possession, Robert Strickland made a bad throw. Defensive back P.J. Freeman intercepted the pass, returning it 60 yards for a touchdown.
Westside’s defense picked off two passes and recovered a fumble. The Patriots also kept Dublin from scoring in the red zone late in the first half.
“We had to get at it,” sophomore linebacker John Freeman said. “We just came out and did what we had to do.”