West Side rallies past Highland
By Dennis Churilla Post-Tribune correspondent November 1, 2013 11:10PM
West Side's Jon Vea' Johnson evades the tackle of Highland's Seth Hardy to run for a touchdown in the second quarter of play during their sectional game held at Highland High School on Friday November 1, 2013. | Charles Mitchell/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 3, 2013 6:12AM
HIGHLAND — For two-and-a-half quarters Friday night, it looked like Highland would duplicate last year’s sectional semifinal victory over West Side. The Trojans were grinding up the Cougars as Highland built a sizable advantage.
But a series of fumbles and almost-fumbles changed everything. West Side capitalized on a pair of third-quarter turnovers deep in Trojans territory to grab a 46-27 victory over Highland.
“I’m the cool one,” West Side coach Jason Johnson said of his halftime motivation. “My assistant coaches are the nasty ones. They took them in (the locker room) and shook them up a bit.”
West Side (7-4) finally found some signs of life midway through the third quarter when the Cougars finished a 65-yard scoring drive with Lonnie Johnson’s 3-yard touchdown run. On the ensuing kickoff, Highland lost a fumble and West Side recovered at the Trojans 15-yard line.
The Cougars were driving for the go-ahead touchdown when Jon Vea Johnson apparently fumbled on a first down run. The Trojans believed they recovered the ball, but the officials ruled Johnson down before the fumble. A couple plays later, West Side took its first lead at 26-21 on Henry Smith’s 12-yard touchdown reception from Ramone Atkins.
Highland lost another fumble on its next possession and West Side got an 11-yard touchdown pass from Atkins to William Wadley off that turnover. Atkins followed that with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Christian Jacob as the Cougars reeled off 34 unanswered points. Atkins finished the night completing 13 of 27 passes for 191 yards and four touchdowns.
Highland’s Ian Hardy carried the ball 32 times for 221 yards and three touchdowns. The Trojans’ 5-6 record is their best finish since they went 6-6 in 2004.