STORY BY: BOB WRIGHT
COLLEGE STATION — Two old foes accustomed to scoring lots of points, gave their fans a defensive show for one half of action at Tigerland Stadium Friday night where the homestanding A&M Consolidated Tigers ran and passed right past their old rivals, the Westlake Chaparrals from Austin.
After holding each other at bay for a 0-0 deadlock at end of the first quarter, Consol took a 7-3 halftime lead, then fell behind the visitors 17-14 in the third quarter.
But, the Tigers really turned on the afterburners in the fourth quarter to score 18 points while holding the Chaps to a field goal. When the final whistle had blown, A&M Consolidated had the situation under complete control 35-17 after continuing defensive heroics to secure the victory while moving to Tigers to 2-1 for the season after ripping past Copperas Cove before coming ever so close, but losing to Waco Midway 34-27 in a game the Tigers could have won.
Westlake lost 49-42 to Temple in overtime, a score which underscores just how good the Consolidated defense performed last night at Tigerland. At least twice, the Tiger defense pushed back the Chaps in the Red Zone, as well as making some top defensive plays just about everywhere else on the field. The night’s work for Consol included intercepting quarterback Jordan Sivert twice. The hard-hitting and swarming defense of Consol jarred Chaparral runners from the ball six times, but fortunately for Westlake, each bobble was recovered, or the situation could have gotten out of hand earlier for the visitors. Sivert hit 13 or 26 aerials, but suffered those two picks.
Consol QB Jaylan Cheshire continued his mastery in directing the Tiger attack, sustaining no interceptions while connecting on 17 of 24 passes.
After a final great defensive stand against Westlake, including a tipped pass on a fourth-down try in the Red Zone, the Tigers had the ball on their six-yard line. That set the stage for a final offensive hurrah for the winners. It took one play, and what a payoff run it was. Xavier Jones got the pitch from Cheshire, headed to his right and cut up the home sideline enroute to a crowd-pleasing 94-yard scoring run with a minute and 20 seconds remaining in the game. Dillon Moore, perfect on five-for-five last night, booted the extra point, clinching the 35-17 win.
Each team went past the 400-yard mark in total offense – Consol with 434 and Westlake with 428.
Again, the Consolidated Tigers got solid performances from their special teams, becoming to be a trademark of the club. There were a lot of good defensive plays which went into the books last evening. Some of these pivotal plays were made by Justin Miller, Danny Ochoa, Josh Hailey, Corey Stoll, Eric Yates, Cory Harris and Randy Whited. Then, there was the ever-improving linebacker corps which provided some key plays from Kyle Chism, Jimmie Gilbert, who transitioned well from defensive end last season to LB, and Eri Flores and Jalyn Williams.
The middle of the D-line put lots of pressure on quarterback Sivert, hurrying him on several passes, while tipping three more, one of which led to an interception.
Coach Raffield had some good things to say about his defense, as well as the offense, which doubled the Chaps on the scoreboard. “It did boil down to defense,” he said around a happy fieldhouse, fronted by some equally happy Tiger fans. He also liked the offensive line which opened some running lanes and provided protection for Cheshire in passing situations. That line includes Kyle Kavanaugh, Luke Bush, Stephen King, Dan Havens, Josh Hafer and Dominic Simmons.
Xavier Jones, who provided that late-game 94-yard knockout TD punch, was the one who got the scoring underway in the second quarter. It came on a three-yard burst at the 9:14 mark. In that scoring drive, Cheshire hit Kerry Thomas and Tyler Spaw to keep things moving.
Michael Barden nailed a 42-yard field goal for Westlake, leaving the halftime score 7-3.
Backup quarterback Sean Rollings slid off right tackle from the three to put Westlake up 9-7 with 8:06 to play in the third quarter, capping off an 88-yard march in nine plays. The drive was aided by a facemask violation against the Tigers. Barden kicked the point, and the Chaps were in front 10-7.
Consol regained the lead in the fourth period, 14-10, It came on a 39-yard pass-and-run gem from Cheshire to wide receiver Josh Stewart, whose sometimes acrobatic receptions include amazing vertical leaps. Moore booted the extra point.
Fullback Ben Slaughter gave Westlake a lead with a fine in-close run, followed by Barden’s extra point. The Chaps, at the time, were in front 17-14. That touchdown wrapped up Chaparral scoring.
Then came the 21-point explosion by the Tigers. It started just 53 seconds deep into the final period when Cheshire drilled a pass to Josh Stewart, covering 23 yards. Moore again nailed the extra point, making it 21-17.
Randy Whited, Jimmie Gilbert and Kyle Chisum then converged for a sack, forcing the Chaparrals to punt. Later, Westlake failed to convert on a Barden 43-yard field goal as the Tiger D continued to hold.
This set the stage for a 20-yard run on a keeper by Cheshire with 3:18 to go. It completed a seven-play, 73-yard drive. The TD run by Cheshire showed off a juke move which completely faked out a Chaparral defender just before Jaylen stepped into the end zone. Moore kicked the point.
Along came Jones’ 94-yard gem down the sideline which put the finishing touches on the Tiger victory.
A&M Consolidated hits the road next Friday for a 7:30 game in Austin against the defending Class 4A State Champion Lake Travis.