For just over a half of play, the Westminster Christian football Wildcats appeared poised to take down the physical and talented St. Charles West Warriors.
But an interception return for a touchdown by St. Charles West linebacker Blake Rugraff, turned a 28-21 deficit into a 35-21 hole and the Wildcats could not recover as St. Charles West rolled to a 49-28 Class 4 quarterfinal victory Saturday (Nov. 15) at Westminster Christian Academy.
St. Charles West (11-2) moves on to play host to Cape Girardeau Central in a Class 4 semifinal next Friday at 7 p.m.
“We just talked about staying disciplined and staying on our keys,” St. Charles West running back Dre Kelly said. “What we needed to do and staying disciplined and focused on our game.”
After falling behind 21-7 to the Warriors, Westminster came roaring back thanks to a 1-yard touchdown pas from Brendan Bognar to Steve Webb in the second quarter and then a 13-yard Bognar to Zach Hughes TD pass made it 21-21 with 8:41 left in the third quarter.
West responded with a solid mix of long and short drives and that gave the Warriors the needed edge.
St. Charles West went ahead to stay on Drew Lauer’s 8-yard touchdown dash with 3:44 left for a 28-21 lead.
On the next Westminster series, Blake Rugraff swung the pendulum the Warriors way when he picked off a Bognar pass and returned it 46 yards to the house and a 35-21 lead with 2:26 to go in the third quarter.
“Arguably the biggest play of the game was that interception for a touchdown,” St.Charles West coach Gary Strauss said. “It gave us that two-score lead again and that made it huge and then they had to try to speed up the tempo a bit and that was a big play for us.”
West put up two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter on a 13-yard Brenden Jett to Kelly pass and a 1-yard run by Rugraff with 2:48 left.
The four touchdown blitz by the Warriors came on the back-end of big time play by the Wildcats offense at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half.
“They are just a good team,” Westminster coach Cory Snyder said. “Physical on defense fast to the ball, the touchdown kind of changed the tide and they forced us to be one-dimensional (with the pass today), which is not to our advantage.”
Westminster went up 7-0 on an 18-yard touchdown run by Webb with 1;58 left in the first quarter. St. Charles West scored the next three touchdowns as Kelly scored on runs of 29 and 20 yards late in the first, and Lauer pushed it to 21-7 with a 84-yard scamper with 6 minutes left before halftime.
Lauer led the Warriors running game with 142 yards on 15 carries. Kelly had 88 yards on 8 carries in addition to his two scores.
Bognar connected with Blake Sutphen on a 19-yard touchdown pass with 53 seconds left to round out the scoring.
NOTES: In Class 3 quarterfinal action on Saturday, John Burroughs blasted Park Hills Central 46-0 to advance to the semifinal round. John Burroughs (12-0) will travel to Monett next Friday for a Class 3 semifinal game.