By Pat Turner
Brandeis had every intention of celebrating a Class 6A Division II Region IV championship Saturday night in the Alamodome.
However, Austin Westlake foiled the plans by using a swarming defense and ball control offense for a 26-0 victory.
The Chaparrals, who advance to the Division II semifinals against Beaumont West Brook, were missing starting quarterback Taylor Anderson, who suffered an injury in last week’s 28-0 regional playoff win over Edinburg Vela. But quarterbacks Kirkland Michaux and Drew Willoughby filled the void with enough efficiency to put points on the board.
Still, the story was Westlake’s defense as the Chaparrals, who played Beaumont West Brook in the semifinals, held the Broncos (11-3) to three first downs and 68 yards.
“We have growing to do,” Brandeis coach David Branscom said. “When you play a team like Westlake you find out where you stand. Hats off to Westlake. We faced a program that is in a different place than we are. So, we have to work to get there.”
Brandeis’ defense had its highlights. The Broncos stopped Westlake’s fourth-and-2 attempt on the Chaparrals’ first possession.
In addition, fumble recoveries by Mark Lara and Brent Malone halted two other drives. Even under those circumstances, Westlake managed enough offense to gain a 14-0 halftime advantage before
Willoughby got the Chaps on the scoreboard first with a 33-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Mason Mangum with 4:47 remaining in the first quarter.
Brandeis was silent much of the first half. However, the Broncos had a potential scoring opportunity after Malone’s recovery at the Westlake 48.
A pitch to J. Nova Rangel picked up 10 yards and Battles scampered 14 yards, putting the Broncos at Westlake’s 24. The drive fizzled on the next play when Sage Luther stepped in front of a Brandeis pass.
Westlake started the second half with high hopes after motoring into Brandeis territory with a sharp running attack. Brandeis escaped trouble when Aiden Inesta-Rodriguez picked off a pass in the end zone.
Brandeis, which overcame a 23-7 deficit in last week’s 33-32 come-from-behind win over Brownsville Hanna, was unable to build momentum.
Westlake forced a three-and-out and made its next possession work without the benefit of a pass. Using the running of Michaux and Rhett Kelley, the Chaparrals ate up 4:37 off the clock, driving 51 yards in 10 plays, before the Westlake quarterback stepped into the end zone.
Minutes later, Westlake’s defense put points on the board when Drew Webster halted Brandeis; half-back pass attempt with a sack in the end zone.
Westlake closed out its scoring with a 38-yard field goal from Gabriel Lozano.
Although the season ended two weeks sooner than Brandeis wanted, the Broncos accomplished a great deal this past season after missing the playoffs a year ago.
Branscom looks to build on this year’s success.