WESTFIELD --- Water’s wet. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. And the Westfield football team won on the strengths of its ground game.
Just another day...
For the Bombers, 35-22 winners over Springfield’s Putnam Vocational, though, it was an important one as they won over their toughest opponent yet and moved to 3-0 on the season --- thanks in large part to that triple-option attack.
“We’re very happy with the start we’ve had,” said Westfield head coach Bill Moore, who announced earlier in the year that this would be his last season at the helm. “That’s a good Putnam football team.”
Westfield used another 100-plus yard performance from senior fullback Ben Geschwind and two touchdowns from Cody Neidig, along with a trio of early mistakes from Putnam, to outpace the Beavers.
Three first-quarter snaps to quarterback Jaleel Kyles went high, leading to negative 39 yards of offense and what would ultimately be premier field position for Westfield.
And the Bombers capitalized, scoring the game’s first three touchdowns to build a 21-0 lead. .
That lead would shrink, though, as Putnam made adjustments and battled back to cut its deficit to 29-22 late in the third quarter on Milton Crawford’s two rushing touchdowns.
“We did a good job staying in the game and working hard,” said Putnam head coach Bill Watson, whose team dropped to 1-2. “But we couldn’t get that first quarter back.”
Westfield stopped the Putnam surge and relied on its rushing attack to wear down the clock and the Beavers’ resolve.
Geschwind finished with a game-high 114 yards and two touchdowns. Neidig had 46 yards and two scores while Rashaun Rivers had 59 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
Putnam was led by Kyles, who ended with 83 yards on 26 carries and reserve quarterback Josh Ortiz, who finished with 100 yards on 7-of-10 passing.
For Putnam to have matched Westfield’s distinct size advantage, it was going to need to play perfectly. But from the outset, the Beavers couldn’t have played any sloppier.
In the shotgun, Kyles had to deal with a number high snaps, including three that went past him and for major losses early in the first quarter.
“Our junior starting center (Darryl Denson) is out with injury,” Watson said. “And we were asking a freshman to come in and fill a tough role.”
All told, Putnam lost 39 yards on three high snaps in the first half but found a way to make a necessary adjustment.
The Beavers moved the extremely speedy and shifty Kyles into the backfield and put Ortiz --- more of a pocket passer --- under center. While it limited the offensive unit’s playbook, it helped limit mistakes as Putnam mounted a comeback.
“They kept coming at us and kept working,” Moore said. “It became a slugfest.”
CONTRASTING GROUND GAMES
Normally, when a game features two contrasting styles, it’s a team that specializes in the run against a pass-happy opponent. In Westfield’s bout with Putnam, the two new AA Conference opponents featured varying styles on the ground.
Westfield, behind its man-sized offensive line, is known for its triple option.
Putnam, of course, relies on a mix of zone and Wildcat-type sets.
“It is interesting to see,” Watson said. “They’re a power team; they come right at you. But we run misdirections go side to side.”
In the end, it was the Bombers’ straightforward, downhill approach that proved the difference maker.
This year’s stable of backs seem to be very complimentary, leaving the play callers many options on any given down.
Geschwind is the bruising fullback that seems like he’s running downhill on every carry. Neidig is the complimentary back bringing equal parts speed and power into each carry. Rashaun Rivers and Craig Ward have speed to burn and Zach Kuson does a good job filling in with a handful of carries each game.
Quarterback Jake Toomey makes it all happen, though, as master of the now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t triple-option attack, which garnered 296 yards against Putnam.
“Each one of those guys brings something different to the table,” Moore said. “They all have different strengths and they’re all running the ball well.”