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No. 3 Westfield uses big first half to beat Zionsville 44-34

Nick Hederon
Photo: Jordan Rich/

WESTFIELD, IN – If you had to recap Friday nights game between Zionsville and Class 5A No. 3 Westfield in a couple words the phrase “day and night” might be your best bet.

The Shamrocks (2-1, 1-0 HCC) looked to be hitting on all cylinders in the first half as they roared out to a 38-8 lead in their Hoosier Crossroads Conference opener against Zionsville (1-2, 0-1 HCC).

But with just 2:13 to go in the game Zionsville attempted an onside kick down 10. As the ball too a crazy hop a Zionsville player grabbed the ball creating a roar from the remaining fans in the away section. Unfourtunatley a part of the grass was covered in yellow forcing another kick.

Westfield would recover and run out the clock for a 44-34 win.

“I thought we played as good of a first half as we could play,” Westfield coach Jake Gilbert said. “And about as bad of a second half as we could play. I give Zionsville a ton of credit their kids kept fighting and did a great job in the second half. I appreciate our kids sticking it out until the finish and getting the W.”

This turn of events never seemed possible to anyone in the last two minutes of the first half.

Photo: Jordan Rich/

With 1:19 left and the score 24-8 Zionsville was hoping to carry their first scoring drive of the night into the first half and build on that momentum. Westfield who had been dominating all night up to that point through the air, ground and the Zionsville backfield, decided to keep it up by scoring on a 38-yard reception from junior Ryan Pepiot (15-of-23 for 190 yards one touchdown and two interceptions) to wide receiver Nick Hederon (seven receptions 96 yards and a touchdown). Just 20 seconds later an interception from a defense who had already recorded multiple fourth down stops and three sacks picked off the pass to make the score 38-8 going into half.

Down 30 the Eagles had no choice but air it out to open the half. They did just this as Trevor Liechty (19-of-26 for 229 yards and one touchdown) found Jake Lucker had beaten his defender for a 46-yard touchdown. The defense would hold its ground for the entire third quarter keeping Westfield from getting anything going. Liechty would close the quarter with a keeper from 2-yards out to make it 38-20.

Entering the fourth quarter Westfield used a pick pass to set up Elvin Caldwell (18 carries for 78 yards), who had already scored twice, for a tough 15-yard run to make the score 44-20. Even at this point people assumed the nail was put into the coffin. Pepiot would though throw two interceptions in a row with the first one allowing the Eagles to drive down the field and make it a 44-26 game thanks to a 1-yard run by Drew Bertram.

“We’ve got to limit the picks,” Gilbert said about Pepiot running the offense. “But one of them bounced of a kids hands, so it wasn’t on him. He has been fantastic and he is going to be spectacular. He’ll get better and better with each game and he will be really really good by the time playoffs hit.”

Still fans started to leave.

Photo: Jordan Rich/

With the ball stuck inside their 20 Zionsville put in sophomore running back Brenden Mikesell for some late carries. He would take advantage as he bounced out to the outside running at full speed for 84-yards to help make it a 10 point game.

“Maybe we’ve got to get in better shape,” Gilbert said on why his team disappeared in the second half. “They (Zionsville) are playing in the heat too and they were better in the second half than we were so maybe we will run.”

Zionsville Eddie Mattingly led all players in yards with 135 yards on the ground and 51 yards receiving.

Zionsville 0,8,12,14 34

Westfield 10,28,0,6 44

Rushes-Yards          43-254              41-177

Comp-Att-Yards      19-27-229        15-23-190

TD-Int                        1-1                      1-2

Sacks                          0                          4

Fumbles                     1                          0

Jordan Rich is the High School Beat Writer for the Indiana Sports Report. Follow @JordoRich and@IndySportsRep on Twitter.

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