DAYTON - Early in the fourth quarter, West Side running back Collin Roberts met a Rich defensive back at the goal line, drove him a few yards into the end zone and bucked him onto the grass.
Yep, it was that kind of day for Roberts and the Pirates.
Roberts rushed for 252 yards and three touchdowns, Mitch Bowles added 93 yards rushing and a pair of TDs as the Pirates played smash-mouth football to its finest in a 37-14 victory over the Rebels on a crisp Friday night at Lyle S. Henderson Field.
"That's kind of shocking," Roberts said when informed of his rushing total. "The linemen, it's all on them. (They gave me) huge holes. Once I was able to get past the line there was really no one, so I just ran hard. But it was all on the team, not me."
A year ago, Rich ran roughshod over West Side - in all fairness to the Pirates, the Rebels thumped everyone they played in 2009 - amassing 315 yards on the ground in a 36-6 drubbing. Needless to say, West Side's offensive linemen were determined not to let history repeat itself.
"Last year, you probably know, we got our butts kicked and our whole goal this year was to play well in the trenches, we had to hold our own and that's what we've been focusing on all year," said WS lineman Tanner Smart, who recovered an on-side kick in the fourth quarter. "So it's a pretty good feeling when you achieve your goal."
The Pirates (3-0) displayed their dominance in the offensive trenches on their first drive as Roberts carried the ball four times for 87 yards and a trip to paydirt.
Simply put, linemen like John Stegelmeier, Cullen Krambule, Steven Hardy, Tyler White and Smart set the tone immediately.
"We knew our line could play better than how they had played the last two games," WS head coach Tyson Moser said. "I don't know that I expected them to play as well as they did tonight. That was just a good overall team effort. The backs ran real hard, but the holes were huge from what I could see where I was standing."
To the Rebels' credit, though, they immediately bounced back from Roberts' first foray into the end zone, driving 70 yards on 13 plays to knot things up at 8-8. Lukas Myers scored on a 2-yard run.
West Side was in good shape to retake the lead in the first half, marching into the red zone on two other occasions. The Bucs came away empty-handed both times, however.
On its final drive of the half, the hosts elected to throw on third-and-three from the Rich 14-yard line, and the play backfired as the Pirates picked up a 16-yard holding penalty. West Side quarterback Dallas Turnbow was then sacked by Kalon Larsen on the ensuing play.
"The first half was my fault," Moser said. "The first drive went just like we wanted, and then after that I don't know if I got a little too care-free or what, but I had some things in mind I wanted to try and went away from what was working."
What worked was smash-mouth football, and the Pirates certainly returned to that after halftime. West Side only called one passing play in the second half and found the end zone on all but one of its possessions.
Roberts' second-to-last carry of the night was a dandy as he scored on an elusive 48-yard touchdown run. Both of the TD runs by the bruising Bowles covered at least 16 yards.
West Side's defense also played well in the second half, holding the Rebels to 87 yards of total offense. White led the way with 11 tackles, while Ky Austin, Bowles and Smart had seven apiece. Austin and Turnbow each had an interception, and Hardy recovered a fumble.
"Second half the kids really responded and came back, and I couldn't have asked for a better outcome than that," Moser said.
Rich wide receiver Coty Cornia played well in a losing effort, catching four passes for 57 yards. The sure-handed Cornia demonstrated impressive concentration on two of his receptions.