Rams use big plays to deal Daniel defeat

By Rocky Nimmons

CENTRAL — Homecoming was unkind for the Daniel High School football team on Friday night as the Westside Rams came in sporting a No. 1 statewide ranking and shellacked the Lions 41-3 in front of a huge crowd at Singleton Field in Central.

Westside, which posted nearly 500 yards of offense in the contest, went ahead early and never looked back. The Lions did manage to stay within striking distance in the first half, going into intermission down 19-3.

DHSStats“We didn’t do enough to win,” Daniel coach Jeff Fruster said in frustration after the game. “We had a tight game going into the second half. They were up 19-3. That’s a two-score lead. We just didn’t do enough to get the yardage or make the stops we needed to make.

“At the end of the day, that is our loss as a staff. We need to perform better. We have to come back to playing Daniel football.”

The Lions started out with momentum on their side. Daniel got the ball first and moved the ball 17 yards in six plays. An illegal procedure call slowed the drive and forced a punt, but Westside’s Eb Jones could not hang on to the kick, fumbling the ball away, with Daniel’s Tyler Venables recovering for the Lions at the Westside 14.

Daniel pushed the ball down to the 6-yard line, but that was as close as they would get to the Ram end zone all night. Fruster elected to call on kicker Nick Muchow on fourth down, and Muchow split the uprights with 7:47 left in the first quarter to give Daniel an early 3-0 lead.DHSGlance

Westside answered back quickly with a 10-play drive that covered 80 yards and was capped with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Jackson Williamson to Traye Carson with 4:37 left in the first to take a lead the Rams never relinquished.

Big plays doomed the Lions all night, and none was bigger than Westside’s second touchdown, an 88-yard Dalton Walls run later in the second. The Rams tacked on a 5-yard Williamson touchdown to take the 19-3 lead into halftime.

DHSQueenDuring halftime festivities, Mia Piekutowski was crowned as the 2016 Daniel Homecoming queen.

The Daniel defense stepped up early in the second half and halted the Rams’ offense. The Lions looked to be on the march, starting from their own 2-yard line. Batson lea his unit out of the shadow of its own goalpost thanks to nice runs by freshman Billy Bruce. The drive stalled at the Lions’ 49, and again Fruster called on Muchow to punt the pigskin away.

Rocky Nimmons/Courier
Mia Piekutowski was crowned 2016 Daniel Homecoming queen at halftime of Friday night’s game against Westside.

Big plays continued to hurt the Lions after intermission. The Rams added a touchdown with 4:17 left in the third when Jyston Kendrick took the punt and bolted 84 yards for a touchdown. Again the Rams went for two, and this time it was Walls who got the call and blasted in to make the score 27-3.

The Rams defense kept the Lions in check, setting up a seven-play, 56-yard drive to start the fourth quarter. Westside’s points came on a 1-yard dive by Paul Johnson with 11:56 to play.


Rex Brown/Courtesy The Journal
Daniel’s Will Swinney looks for running room after a catch against Westside on Friday night at Singleton Field.

The final points of the evening were again the result of a big play. Starting at the Daniel 48, it took just three plays for the Rams to add to their tally. The drive started with Williamson hitting Janori Kendrick for 15 yards, followed by a 3-yard pick up by Johnson. Again Williamson went to the air on the drive’s final play and once again hit Janori Kendrick, this time for a 30-yard touchdown toss. Poore added the final PAT, giving the Rams a 41-3 victory.

Next week, the Lions will have the week off and will get a chance to catch their breath following the loss and regroup for the upcoming region schedule.

“I think what we are going to do in the off week is take some time to go back to playing Daniel football,” Fruster said. “This was just the first half of the season. It was the non-region schedule. I think we played it to the best of our abilities.

“In the second half tonight we got sloppy and we got down and we let the breaks affect us too much. Mentally we really looked down there at the end. We have to go back to being mentally strong.”