Grand Island Northwest senior Blake Westerby started the game in style for the Vikings and the team finished from there.
Northwest outmanned Lexington in a 49-14 home victory Friday evening at Northwest High School as the contest avoided storms that caused delays around the area.
Westerby got the win started with a kickoff return for a touchdown before the Northwest defense and run game sent Lexington home with its seventh straight loss, a streak that dates to last season.
Westerby wasn’t back to return the kick, but it came to him short. He sprinted down the home sideline for the games first score.
“We had a predetermined role to go left. I just kind of did my job and ran up,” Westerby said. “It was a short kick, which they were doing the whole night. It was easy to just grab and run with. Everyone did a great job up front of blocking.”
Westerby’s return was electric and his multi-sack game on defense stood out for Northeast, but running back Adam Cooper also made his presence felt.
Cooper gashed the Minutemen defense for 211 yards on 26 carries and four touchdowns. Cooper’s four scores all came in the first half that saw the Vikings pull away.
Cooper scored from 8-yards out in the first quarter, then had scores from 5-, 5- and 30-yards out.
“The lineman had good upfield blocks, sealed the linebackers and got out for an open hole,” Cooper said.
The successful run game was a welcome accomplishment for Northwest, who allowed Lexington march down the field and score on a six-play, 63-yard drive that matched Westerby’s return and tied the game.
From there, Cooper and the Northwest offense scored on four of their next five possessions to break the game open. The run game paired nicely with quarterback Carter Terry’s performance. He threw for 130 yards in the first half.
“I think we handled their blitz real well. They brought a lot of different looks and played a lot of games and stuff like that,” Northwest head coach Kevin Stein said. “We were able to consistently run the ball and then we had the chance to really gash them, were able to do that and get big chunks.
“Adam, we got him some holes but he really ran possessed tonight. He did a heck of a job.”
Northwest had a brief scare near the end of the first half with Terry leaving the game with a leg injury after a roughing the passer call on Lexington. Terry worked to loosen up at halftime and came back to guide two scoring drives that helped Northwest take a 35-point lead that resulted in a running clock the majority of the second half.
Terry had a 14-yard passing touchdown to Danny Fisher with 9:36 left in the third quarter. Later in the third on third and goal, Terry faked to Cooper and went around the corner for a touchdown. Terry made several nice plays with his legs (Five carries, 27 yards), including running for two first downs.
Lexington got two rushing touchdowns from quarterback Jake Leger, who also was 10-18 for 202 yards. Otherwise, the Northwest defense answered the bell after allowing an early scoring drive.
“With a quarterback like they have and some weapons that they have, they made some plays,” Stein said. “They really didn’t ever get any traction and get going. Our defense played pretty well and had some nice hits.”
Lexington found some big plays in the passing game, but the run game was a tough go with 102 yards on 39 carries. One of their obstacles was none other than Weatherby, who met Minutemen runners at the line of scrimmage throughout the night.
Westerby was recently moved from outside linebacker to inside.
“This is probably the first game where we really felt comfortable in his role” Stein said. “He was really able to fly around and show the speed that he has.”
The win represents a step back on the right path for Northwest after falling to Class B, No. 8 Columbus 48-30 last week. The Vikings will host No. 7 Scottsbluff next Friday during homecoming.
“They’re going to have bigger people, they’re going to have more energy, more one-way starters and more people not getting tired. It will be a tough game,” Cooper said.
Northwest 49, Lexington 14
Lexington (0-4) 7 7 0 0 - 14
At Northwest 14 21 14 0 - 49
N - Blake Westerby 80 kick return (Dylan Allen kick), 14:46
L - Jake Leger, 16 run (Javier Magana kick), 9:26
N- Adam Cooper 8 run (Allen kick), 6:38
N - Cooper 8 run (Allen kick), 11:14
N - Cooper 5 run (Allen kick), 6:32
L - Leger 5 run (Magana kick), 2:50
N - Cooper 30 run (Allen kick), :51.2
N - Danny Fisher 14 pass from Carter Terry (Allen kick), 9:36
N - Terry 3 run (Allen kick), 4:50
First downs 14 21
Rushes-yards 39-102 44-295
Passing yards 214 157
Comp-Att-Int 13-25-0 10-18-1
Punts-avg. 4-34.5 2-25.0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 5-51 8-80
RUSHING—L: Jake Leger 17-36, Javier Rivas 4-21, Riley Kopf 3-8, Edvin Ramirez 4-10, Jairo Alvarez 3-13, Dalton Schumacher 2-11, Jaxon Fagot 3-2. N: Adam Cooper 26-211, Carter Terry 5-27, Aavery Castaneda 4-17, Michael Coffey 3-14, Rans Sanders 1-10, Levi Van Pelt 3-20, Sam Collins 2-0.
PASSING—L: Leger 10-18-202, Fagot 2-6-12, Kaleb Carpenter 1-1-0; NW: Carter Terry 9-15-156, Rans Sanders 1-3-1, Alex Brandt 0-1-0.
RECEIVING—L: NA. N: Riley Schliep 3-23, Brady Glause 2-35, Preston Ellsworth 3-10, Tyler Hageman 2-55, Danny Fisher 1-14.