OAKWOOD — West Hall quarterback Shunquez Stephens' senior season got off to a slow start. It wouldn't last long.
Stephens passed for 247 yards and a touchdown and ran for 88 yards and a score to lead the Spartans past East Hall 18-6 at Spartans Stadium on Friday.
The win ends the Spartans' 10-game losing streak and avenges last season's loss to East Hall.
"It feels great to get that first win, after last year," Stephens said. "And it's only going to get better from here."
On the Spartans' first play from scrimmage, Stephens threw over an open receiver. He was sacked by Georgia verbal commitment Sterling Bailey, a defensive end, on his second play. But on his third play, he threw a strike to Antonio Sigmund, who broke away from two tackles on his way to a 68-yard touchdown that put the Spartans up 6-0 early in the first quarter.
Throughout the game, Stephens managed to elude East Hall's standout defensive end tandem of Bailey and Chaz Cheeks, who has committed to Georgia Tech.
Bailey finished with two sacks, six tackles and a 20-yard reception. Cheeks also recorded two sacks.
However, this was Stephens' night.
His 33-yard pass to William Stroup highlighted a 12-play, 90-yard scoring drive in the second quarter for West Hall. Stephens finished the drive with a 2-yard leaping touchdown run on fourth and goal to put the Spartans up 12-0 with 6:57 remaining before halftime.
Meanwhile, East Hall couldn't get anything going. The running game was sluggish, and quarterback Zach Groover was unsettled. Three turnovers and two errant snaps on punts certainly didn't help the Vikings' cause.
Late in the second quarter, West Hall's Damian Millsap recovered the second of the Vikings' fumbles. Five plays later, the Spartans capitalized with Dre Pou's 4-yard touchdown run and took an 18-0 lead into halftime.
West Hall squandered multiple chances to extend the lead. Stephens was picked off by East Hall's Austen Mahaffey deep inside East Hall territory right before half. The Spartans also failed to score on a third-quarter drive that started at the Vikings' 1.
But East Hall just couldn't overcome the turnovers. After the goal-line stand, the Vikings took the ensuing possession and moved inside Spartans territory before a turnover. West Hall's Isaiah Murphy pounced on the loose ball, ending East Hall's efforts to get back in the game.
East Hall finally got on the board with Jamond Witt's 45-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to make the score 18-6. Witt led the Vikings with 117 rushing yards and four receptions for 46 yards.
Sigmund was Stephens' top target for West Hall and finished with four catches for 134 yards. Brandon Fuqua added five catches for 46 yards.
With 3:18 to play and West Hall looking to run out the close, lightning moved into the area and sent the game into a lengthy delay. It was called around 11:45 p.m.
"From Day 1, our goal has been to make the playoffs," said West Hall coach Mike Newton. "We believe that."