The cold north wind and steady drizzling rain didn’t damper Austin Westlake. The Chaparrals accumulated 480 offensive yards and romped to a 56-7 regional win over North Mesquite in the Class 6A Division I playoffs at Waco ISD Stadium.
“You don’t predict that kind of stuff in this round of playoffs plus these conditions,” Westlake head coach Todd Dodge said. “Our kids played really well today.”
Westlake (12-1) advances to play Humble Atascocita in state quarterfinals next Saturday at the Berry Center in Cypress. Atascocita downed Garland Rowlett 31-24 in overtime to set up the match with the Chaparrals.
“It just seems like yesterday it was a bracket of 64 and now it’s down to eight,” Dodge said. “We’re thrilled to be in that eight.”
Quarterback Sam Ehlinger led the way with five touchdowns, three passing, one running, and one receiving. The junior signal caller connected on 11-of-18 attempts for 184 yards.
“Coach Dodge always talks about the first seven minutes and attacking, and the goals we have to meet at the beginning of the game,” Ehlinger said. “If we do that everything falls in line, and he’s exactly correct.”
Three first-quarter turnovers proved costly for North Mesquite (10-3) as Ja’Quez Gooch threw an interception on the Stallions’ initial possession. Although the pick led to no points, it set up the Chaparrals in good field position at the North Mesquite 47.
The Stallions managed to hold Westlake on downs at their own 42 when Ehlinger’s pass from short punt formation overshot Chase Cokley. Two plays later, however, Dreshawn Minnieweather fumbled after being swarmed for a 5-yard loss.
Mack Kelley grabbed the loose football at the 26 and rambled untouched into the end zone. Ryan Rees booted the extra point, and the Chaparrals took a 7-0 lead with 7:09 left in the first quarter.
Westlake took quick advantage another Stallion error. Donte Howell caught a short pass from Gooch near the left sideline but lost the ball as he went down. Levi Jones recovered and gave the Chaparrals a first-and-10 at their own 49.
Noah Hodes rambled 36 yards on second down, setting up the Chaparrals with first-and-goal at the Stallion 7. Three plays later, Ehlinger connected with Kylen Granson for a 6-yard touchdown pass.
North Mesquite crossed into Westlake territory on its next possession. But the Chaparrals stopped Gooch for a 1-yard loss on fourth down at their own 41. Westlake needed only four plays to open a three-touchdown lead with Ehlinger taking it into the end zone from 13 yards out.
The Stallions generated only one first down on their next series and punted to Westlake with just over 10 minutes left in the second quarter. The Chaparrals took over at their own 28 and marched the distance in seven plays.
Hodes, who led Westlake in rushing with seven carries for 125 yards, ripped off a 47-yard run, advancing the ball to the North Mesquite 17. On third-and-goal from the 5, Westlake resorted to trickery with Hodes taking a deep snap, running left, and handing off to Reed Klubnik, who threw to Ehlinger for the touchdown.
A short Stallion punt enabled the Chaparrals to take a final shot at the end zone from the Stallion 37 with 9 seconds left before halftime. A double reverse pitchback to Ehlinger produced a touchdown pass to Andrew Boykin as time expired.
Westlake kept the momentum rolling in the second half with Ehlinger tossing a 16-yard scoring reception to Cokely, and Hodes scampering on a 25-yard touchdown run. Canaan Clark-Bateman capped the scoring with a 37-yard tightrope jaunt down the left sideline in the fourth quarter.
North Mesquite avoided the shutout on backup quarterback Alex Virgil’s 31-yard scoring run with 46 seconds remaining. Minnieweather paced the Stallion offense with 94 rushing yards on 19 carries.
“We made it to Thanksgiving which was a goal,” Dodge said. “Now, we’re getting a chance to play the greatness of Texas high school football in the month of December.”
North Mesquite – 0-0-0-7 — 7
Austin Westlake – 21-14-14-7 — 56
AW – Mack Kelley 26 fumble return (Ryan Ress kick), 7:09 1Q
AW – Kylen Granson 6 pass from Sam Ehlinger (Ress kick), 5:02 1Q
AW – Ehlinger 13 run (Ress kick), 0:31 1Q
AW – Ehlinger 5 pass from Reed Klubnick (Rees kick), 7:12 2Q
AW – Andrew Boykin 37 pass from Ehlinger (Rees kick), 0:00 2Q
AW – Chase Cokley 16 pass from Ehlinger (Rees kick), 10:11 3Q
AW – Noah Hodes 25 run (Rees kick), 3:44 3Q
AW – Canaan Clark-Bateman 37 run (Carson Scott kick), 4:53 4Q
NM – Alex Vigil 31 run (Franco Resendiz kick), 0:46 4Q