Westbrook’s late score dooms Happy in 1A D1 state semifinal


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Happy running back Joey Blackmon dives forward against Westbrook during a Class 1A Division I state semifinal on Friday night in Slaton. [Roy Wheeler/ Press Pass Sports]
SLATON- With 1:47 to go in the game, Happy was sitting on the brink of history down 34-30. The Cowboys forced a fourth and seven for the defending state champion, Westbrook, but the final big play was made by the Wildcats as Grayson Jeffrey rolled right looking to deliver a pass then saw a crease and raced 35-yards for the score as Westbrook held on to beat a gutsy Happy team 40-30 in a Class 1A Division I state semifinal matchup Friday night at Tigers Stadium. The Wildcats (13-1) are headed back to AT&T Stadium in Arlington trying to defend their crown when Westbrook faces the Abbott-Irion County winner on Wednesday, Dec. 14.


Happy (12-2), which was appearing in its fourth semifinal in seven years, was trying to make school history by becoming the first team from the program to make a state finals appearance. Tied 14-14 at half, the Wildcats took a lead with just over three minutes to go in the third as electric running back Cedric Ware scampered 44-yards for the score to give Westbrook a 20-14 lead. The Wildcats then began the fourth deep in Cowboy territory after a Tryce Johnson fumble.  Facing a second and goal at the 1-yard line, the defense for Happy stepped up in a big way as they held the Wildcats out of the end zone on three straight plays to take back over with 7:41 remaining in the game. Happy was unable to muster any offense and decided to punt from their own 6-yard line.

After the punt that gave Westbrook the ball at the Cowboys 32-yard line, it took only two plays for Ware to find paydirt by racing to the corner of the end zone from 2-yards out that put the Cowboys in a 28-14 hole. The Happy offense then sprang to life on the next possession as quarterback Camden Sperry hit Kyton Johnson on a 33-yard dart to pull the Cowboys back to within six, 28-22, with five minutes left.

Westbrook responded with a quick drive capped off by a 3-yard run from Jeffrey to push the lead to 34-22. Undaunted, Happy quickly responded with a 3-yard run from Sperry on a fourth and two from the Wildcat 3-yard line with 3:24 remaining.  Then, on the ensuing drive, is when Jeffrey drove a stake through the heart of the Cowboys with his fourth down run.

Happy, prohibitive underdogs heading into this game, held a 14-8 second quarter lead on Westbrook when Sperry found Tryce Johnson on a 28-yard touchdown pass. Westbrook responded with a 28-yard scamper from Ware, his first of three rushing scores on the night. The Wildcats then threatened to pull ahead right before the half, but Sperry picked the Parker Matlock pass in the end zone, his second pick of the half for the Cowboys to keep the game tied.

Sperry finished the night going 12-of-23 for 139 yards and two scores to go with his rushing touchdown. Kyton Johnson was his leading receiver hauling in 5 passes that covered 54 yards. For Westbrook, Ware had a stellar night gaining 182 yards on 22 carries while Jeffrey tacked on 57 yards and Matlock racked 101 yards through the air.

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