What started out as a bad night for Brandon Fuqua ended fantastic.
The West Hall receiver caught three touchdowns from Shunquez Stephens and led the Spartans 2-0) to a 24-13 win over host Chestatee.
Fuqua muffed the opening kickoff, forcing the Spartans to start from their own 1. Eighteen plays and 99 yards later, the senior grabbed his first touchdown catch on a 1-yard strike from Stephens.
"Gosh, I was really down (after the muffed kickoff)," said Fuqua. "But I knew I needed to step up."
He did, finishing with nine catches for 63 yards and the three touchdowns.
The Spartans' opening drive set the tone and gobbled up more than seven minutes off the clock. West Hall held the ball for 18 minutes of the first half and led 14-0 at intermission.
Stephens, who is off to a big start to his senior year, connected on his first 10 pass attempts and finished 19 of 26 for 154 yards and the three touchdowns. He added 102 yards rushing.
The War Eagles (0-1) were able to move ball, but penalties and two costly fumbles hurt their cause. They did how signs of good things to come and put up a fight in the second half. They outgained the Spartans 313-286, although 60 of those yards came on the game's final play when the outcome had been decided.
Midway through the third quarter, quarterback Scott Chewning found Alex Moore on a crossing rout on a fourth-and-six play that went for a 55-yard touchdown to make it 14-6. Chewing and Moore hooked up again on a 15-yard touchdown pass that cut the Spartans' lead to 24-13 with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.
But the War Eagles lost their second fumble of the game later in the fourth quarter, leading to their third straight season-opening loss.
"We've got a lot of young guys and tonight was their first time playing under the lights," said Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell. "Give them credit. West Hall played well. We just had too many penalties and turnovers. But I have no doubt - no doubt - that these guys will be back out here Monday, ready to practice and get better."
Chewning finished 10 of 16 for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Moore led all receivers with 121 yards on six catches.
West Hall sophomore lineman Keith McCroan blocked a kick, recovered a fumble and recorded a big sack in the fourth quarter, when Chestatee was mounting a late comeback.
West Hall is off to a 2-0 start after going 0-10 last season.
The difference, says Fuqua, is attitude. "We're playing much more like a team this season than last," he added.