By Pat Turner
Black Friday turned out to be dreary for Brennan and Harlan as their playoff runs came to a screeching halt in area round.
In Class 6A Division II, defending Region IV champion Austin Westlake pounded out a 49-7 win over Brennan. Harlan lost a 58-21 decision to Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial in 5A Division I action.
Westlake relied on an explosive start by erupting for 35 first-half points.
However, a favorable beginning appeared to be happening for Brennan.
Brennan punter Andrew Bentley put Westlake in a hole when his 59-yard punt landed at the 1-yard line.
That didn’t bother Taylor Anderson. On the first play from scrimmage, the Westlake quarterback dropped back into the end zone and floated a pass to Mason Mangum at midfield, who turned the reception into a 99-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 8:45 showing in the first quarter.
Westlake delivered another stinging blow to Brennan less than four minutes later when a quarterback sack caused a fumble. Ben Pankonien picked up the loose ball and strolled into the end from 30 yards for a 14-0 lead with 5:09 remaining in the first quarter.
Westlake’s second possession also produced a touchdown, but it didn’t happen as quickly as the first. The Chaparrals’ drive began at the end of the first period and carried over into the second where Anderson capped the 61-yard, eight-play drive with a 19-yard touchdown toss to Coker for a 21-0 lead.
Coker was involved in Westlake’s next touchdown with another clutch catch. However, this came on special teams when he snagged the ball on a blocked punt and sprinted to the end zone.
Special teams set up Anderson’s 1-yard run shortly after by recovering a fumble on the ensuing kick at Brennan’s 30.
Westlake built on its 35-0 halftime advantage, beginning with Anderson lofting a 66-yard touchdown pass to Penny Baker on the Chaps’ first possession. Anderson and Baker hooked up for a 14-yard strike at the midway point of the third period.
Brennan got on the board in the fourth quarter. Facing fourth-and-3 from the 45, Flores slipped through a crease and scampered 45 yards for the touchdown.
“We made mistakes that hurt us,” Brennan coach Stephen Basore said. “The first half really hurt us. We tried to recover from it in the second half, but Westlake is really a good team. They’re as good as advertised. But it is a learning experience for us to move on for next year.”
Even though Friday was not a pleasant experience, Basore believes growth took place this season. The Bears (8-4) lost their season opener to Reagan, 24-22 and began District 28-6A with a 33-21 loss to Warren before going 7-1 the rest of the way, the lone setback coming against O’Connor (30-23) for the league title.
“It was a great year,” Basore said. “I am so proud of this team. We had a chance to play for a district championship. We accomplished a lot of things.”
Harlan was looking to add another chapter to its impressive inaugural varsity season.
Veterans Memorial, however, proved to be too tall of an order on this day at Buccaneer Stadium.
Harlan (8-4) was on the move for the first touchdown of the contest with a 15-play drive.
However, Veterans Memorial halted the march with Davis Horne’s interception in the end zone. The Eagles then motored 80 yards for the go-ahead score on David Soto’s 17-yard pass to Kobe Piper, followed by a two-point conversion.
Vets Memorial then struck minutes later when Soto sprinted 45 yards to the end zone.
More trouble followed for Harlan when Horne blocked a punt Isaiah Rodriguez’s touchdown to it in the end zone for a 21-0 lead.
Harlan eased some of the blow with Kannon Williams’ 31-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Beltran, but the Hawks’ rally was brief.
Vets Memorial countered with another touchdown on its way to a 35-7 halftime lead. From that point, the Eagles never looked back tacking on 23 points in the second half.
Harlan got its two second-half touchdowns on Williams’ 4-yard run and Aden Aguinaga’s 20-yard pass to Jacory Logan.
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