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West Hall hammers Johnson 35-0 in Battle of Oakwood

POSTED: August 23, 2013 11:00 p.m.

THE BLITZ: Johnson at West Hall

Prep football coverage from Friday, Aug. 23, 2013: Johnson at West Hall, Oakwood


Johnson quarterback Kavin Hopkins drops the ball as he drops back Friday night during the second quarter of the Knights' game with West Hall at Spartan Field.

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OAKWOOD — This year, the Battle of Oakwood went to the Spartans of West Hall.

The Spartans opened their 2013 campaign in convincing fashion Friday night at Spartan Field, routing the archrival Johnson Knights 35-0 in the 20th all-time meeting between the two schools.

“I am just so happy for the faculty at West Hall, the students at West Hall and the community,” Spartans’ coach Tony Lotti said. “I am happy. I am happy for our student body, they packed it out tonight. This is what it is about.”

Now the Spartans have bragging rights over their neighbor for the next 12 months. More importantly for the West Hall seniors, they have bragging rights over a close rival forever.

“It is definitely something I am going to hold on to,” West Hall senior quarterback Zach English said. “I just give the glory to God; without Him we can’t do anything.”

West Hall’s defense, which allowed over 34 points per game a season ago, was stingy Friday night. The Spartans held the Knights to just 108 yards of total offense and forced two turnovers, while setting up the offense with great field position throughout the contest.

With an increase in defensive intensity, the Spartan offense started five of its nine drives inside Johnson territory, and just one inside its own 30-yard line.

“One of the things we’ve had hanging over our heads all offseason, unfortunately, was the 34 points,” Lotti said. “And one thing we took a hard look at, as a staff, was the stats that mattered, like 34 points against.

“Our defensive staff, they have done such a great job. I am so happy for them.”

Plenty of players got into the action for the Spartan offense, which finished with 333 yards.

Senior running back Antonio Pittman led the way with a game-high 72 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns. English finished with 64 yards rushing and 62 yards through the air with two total scores.

Sophomore Tyquan Statham finished with 29 yards rushing and added a third-quarter score.

“We were real focused on this game,” Lotti said. “We felt like it was important that we come out and try to establish up front like we did. And we had solid field position all night.”

After both teams lost fumbles on their opening possessions, West Hall took a 7-0 lead on its second possession of the game when English connected with fellow senior Hunter Atkinson across the middle of the field.

Atkinson made the catch and bullied his way into the end zone to cap the 16-yard scoring connection.

The Spartans were back in the end zone a few drives later when Pittman plunged his way into the end zone on a 5-yard touchdown run. The senior’s first touchdown run of the season capped off an eight-play drive that made the score 14-0.

West Hall failed to take advantage of an onside kick recovery on the ensuing kickoff, but the Spartan defense came through and forced another Johnson punt.

Then, with the first half winding down, the West Hall offense took over possession on its own 44. That’s when the Spartans broke the game open with their third touchdown of the half on a 26-yard scoring run from English.

“The line did great, offensively and defensively,” English said. “What they do, we do.”

In the second half, West Hall scored on its first two possessions. Pittman capped the Spartans’ first drive, which started at the Johnson 26, with a 6-yard rush, making the score 28-0.

Following a Johnson punt, the Spartans took over at the Knights’ 48 and needed just six plays to score their final touchdown of the night, an 11-yard run by Statham.

Johnson’s offense struggled throughout the night. The Knights fumbled on their opening possession and followed it with three consecutive punts before having their fifth possession be cut short by halftime.

The second half wasn’t much better. The Knights lost a fumble on their first drive before punting the ball away later in the third quarter.

They finally crossed the 50-yard line for the first time of the game on their final two offensive possessions, both in the fourth quarter.

Luis Hernandez led the Knights with a team-high 58 yards rushing, while quarterback Kavin Hopkins finished with 33 yards on 16 carries. Hopkins was 2-for-4 passing for 17 yards.


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