By Colby Gordon / American-Statesman Correspondent
Posted at 6:31 AM
Updated at 11:13 AM
ROUND ROCK – Stony Point lives and dies by running the football.
Friday at Dragon Stadium, the Tigers’ playoff hopes stayed alive thanks to a rushing attack that produced 379 yards and led them to a 45-28 win over Westwood.
“We came out and said, ‘We’re going to run the football,’ ” Stony Point coach Craig Chessher said. ”(Westwood) was playing us in a different coverage, and we weren’t functioning well throwing the football. I’m real proud of our offense and our defense was (great).”
Stony Point (7-2, 5-2 District 13-6A), which entered the game coming off a somewhat surprising loss to McNeil last week, didn’t throw a pass in the second half.
The Tigers were particularly effective on the ground in the second half, when Kendall Thomas scored all three of his touchdowns and ran for the bulk of his 265 yards and Jaden Leonard rushed for a score and most of his 102 yards.
“We owe that to the offensive line,” Thomas said. “They were really moving and pushing people, so we knew we could count on them and we could keep the ball on the ground.”
As they have in most of their wins, the Tigers dominated in the fourth quarter.
Leading 24-21 entering the frame, Stony Point turned the game into a rout as Thomas’ scoring runs of 59 and 4 yards sandwiched Leonard’s 8-yard touchdown jaunt.
“I’d like to say we have a secret, but we just talk to our guys about winning the second half,” Chessher said. “I felt like we got some momentum, took advantage of opportunities that we didn’t in the first half and … (being a second-half team) is something that’s served us well.”
With the win, the Tigers enter the final week tied for second in the district and in good position to make the playoffs, but they finish the year with district champion and undefeated Vandegrift. Four teams – Stony Point, Vista Ridge, Round Rock and Cedar Ridge – are vying for the three remaining postseason spots.
“Everyone in this district is good,” Chessher said. “To be 7-2 and in the position we’re in, it’s beyond words.”
Westwood (4-5, 3-4), which was eliminated from postseason contention with the loss, opened the scoring three plays into the game when RJ Martinez — who finished with 346 yards and four touchdowns through the air — connected with Julian DeBerry on a 47-yard touchdown pass.
Stony Point quarterback Kyle Overton scored from the 2 to tie the game, then the Tigers took the lead on an impressive play by defensive end Kylen Woodley, who blocked a punt and picked up the ball off one bounce to raced 27 yards for a touchdown.
“I got off a double-team block, then I thought the punter was going to run it on a fake,” Woodley said. “I got my hands up, blocked the ball, and it came back up into my hands and I just ran for a touchdown. As a guy on the defensive line who doesn’t get a lot of attention, it feels great to score.”
Martinez’s 5-yard TD pass to Jace Lyne tied the game at 14-14, but Stony Point took the lead for good late in the second quarter on Alan Rivera Salazar’s 28-yard field goal.
Thomas scored on 40-yard run midway through the third before Martinez hit Lyne for another touchdown, this time from the 9, to set the scene for the fourth.
“I feel like it’s a Stony Point tradition to be strong in the second half,” Woodley said. “Through all the past years, it’s always been a second-half team.”
Martinez’s 7-yard touchdown strike to Oliver Yu in the final minute rounded out the game’s scoring.
DeBerry finished with nine catches for 163 yards for Westwood, which ends its year against playoff-hopeful Cedar Ridge.
Meanwhile, Stony Point hopes its season will still be going strong when the playoffs start in two weeks.
“It’s been a fun year going 7-2 so far,” Thomas said. “This is a team that likes each other, plays for each other and that makes a big difference. We love going out there and competing as a team.”