OAKWOOD -- Sometimes a team is motivated by more than just a desire to win.
With memories of last year's 40-14 Senior Night loss to Gainesville haunting the Spartans, and visions of winning five games in a season for the first time since 2002 as a driving force, West Hall beat East Hall 30-24 on Friday night in Oakwood.
With the win West Hall (5-4, 2-2 Region 7B-AAA) accomplished both goals.
"We got five games, which is the most since 2002, and I'm proud of the kids," West Hall coach Mike Newton said. "The kids just did a great job and I'm especially proud for the seniors."
Led by brothers Marquise and Shunquez Stephens, who each accounted for two touchdowns, West Hall escaped a resilient East Hall (1-8, 0-5) team.
"This game was very important," senior running back Marquise Stephens said. "This was how we wanted it.
"We didn't want what happened last year to happen this year, so this game meant a lot to us."
The Spartans took an early 3-0 lead on a 23-yard field goal by Scott Eichler to cap their first drive, which ran 13 plays and took up the first eight minutes of the first quarter.
West Hall went up 17-0 before East Hall responded, thanks to the play of the Stephens' brothers. Shunquez Stephens accounted for the first touchdown of the game on a 10-yard pass to Terrell Penland. Marquise Stephens came back with one of his own on the Spartans' next drive, running in from 12 yards out.
"(Marquise) was outstanding," Newton said. "We saw they (East Hall) were only going to put one linebacker in the box, so we could run the football."
Marquise Stephens finished as the game's leading rusher with 117 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns.
East Hall got on the board late in the second quarter, taking advantage of a West Hall fumble with just over two minutes to go. Three plays after the Vikings' fumble recovery, Desmon Gardner hit Andrew Ivester in stride on a slant rout for a 43-yard score.
West Hall had a chance to respond with less than a minute to go in the half but Shunquez Stephens was sacked twice for a combined loss of 21 yards. The Vikings' sacked Stephens five times in the game.
"We have to get things worked out," Newton said. "We can't give up cheap touchdowns and we have to take care of the ball."
East Hall started the second half much as West Hall did the first, with a long drive that took up the better part of a quarter and ended with points on the board.
Set up by a 37-yard pass play from Gardner to sophomore wide receiver Chaz Cheeks, Corey Richardson took the ball in from 1 yard to cut West Hall's lead to 17-14.
The Spartans, as though foreshadowing how the second half would play out, stole the momentum back on its ensuing drive.
After a 39-yard pass from Shunquez Stephens to Rodney Gibson put the Spartans' at the Vikings' 21-yard line, Marquise Stephens ran the ball three straight times for a total of 20 yards and his second touchdown.
East Hall responded, however, capping a 10-play drive with a 10-yard pass from Gardner to Richardson, closing the score to 23-21 West Hall.
Gardner finished the game 15-of-33 passing for 201 yards and two touchdowns and was also the team's leading rusher with 54 yards on 10 carries.
Richardson rushed for 43 yards on 10 carries and caught three passes for 10 yards while scoring one touchdown each rushing and receiving.
Vikings' senior Kiante Young was the team's leading receiver, catching four passes for 76 yards.
West Hall answered and, in doing so, put the game away by going eight plays and 60 yards on its next drive, scoring from when Shunquez Stephens hit Rodney Gibson in the back of the end zone from 7 yards.
Shunquez Stephens had 174 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-19 passing.
Gibson was the game's leading receiver catching four passes for 78 yards. Penland caught four passes for 57 yards.
"He's been making plays all year long, that's what he's about," Newton said. "I'm proud of him. He's just a sophomore, but he's the best quarterback in our area."
The Vikings would cut into the lead again thanks to a 30-yard field goal from Chrisel Flores.
"We fought," Newton said. "I'm proud of our kids; we got five wins. I'm just real excited.
"I'm especially excited for our seniors, but we have work to do for next week."
West Hall next travels to West Forsyth while East Hall visits Pickens. Both games will be at 7:30 p.m. next Friday.