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Trojans defeat Ashley 34-26

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By Michael Paul, Sports Editor

 Junior running back Tavon Stanley rushed for 170 yards and senior quarterback Dylan Darguzas rushed for 131 yards as the West Brunswick Trojans beat the Ashley Screaming Eagles 34-26 Friday, Nov. 8, in the final Mideastern 4A/3A Conference football game of the season.

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West (3-3 in the conference, 3-7 overall) also got a touchdown in the final minute from Sean Hewett, who scored after he recovered an onside kick. The touchdown proved important as Ashley (2-4, 4-6) nearly scored on a 37-yard touchdown pass as time expired but the football was deflected by West defenders at the goal line in the game played at M.H. Rourk Stadium.

“The O-line really played well at times,” West coach Scott Frazier said. “We ran the ball effectively. Tavon had some great runs. Dez Stanley goes unsung as a fullback. Little stump in there, he blocked his tail off all night long. Dylan ran the football well. That was probably the difference in the second half — our ability to run the football and keep the football.”

West led 14-7 with 13.5 seconds left in the first half but fumbled at its 17. Ashley then scored on a touchdown pass with 7.2 seconds left and kicked the extra point to tie the score 14-14.

The extra point was the last Ashley scored. In the second half, Kavonte Gore blocked an extra-point kick that would have given Ashley a 21-20 lead. And pressure by Sean Hewett, among others, forced an errant kick on a PAT that would tied the score 27-27 with 40.1 seconds left.

“I shifted a couple of people around and we finally started doing it the way I wanted to do it,” Frazier said. “Sean Hewett is built for doing that.”

The Trojans scored on their first two possessions in taking a 14-0 lead. An interception by Sean Hewett set up the first touchdown series. The drive revealed the Trojans’ plan for the night: let Tavon Stanley and Darguzas run. West ran 14 plays in a 70-yard drive that ended on a short run by Darguzas. Ethan Prevatte kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 3:21 left in the first quarter.

In the drive, Darguzas completed a 7-yard pass on third down and then ran 5 yards on fourth down for a first down at the 20. He scored four plays later.

West’s second drive began after the defense stopped the Screaming Eagles on fourth down at the West 24. Darguzas completed the eight-play drive when he scored from the 2. Prevatte’s PAT put the Trojans’ ahead 14-0 with 9:39 left in the half.

Stanley’s running set up the score. He gained 57 yards on back-to-back carries, putting West on the Ashley 6. Darguzas scored three plays later.

Ashley scored on a short run with 6:03 left and tied the score after the West fumble.

West fumbled on its first possession of the second half. But a punt return by Zarie Hankins to the Ashley 35 set up the Trojans’ third touchdown. Five runs by Tavon Stanley — getting blocking from linemen Josh Dispirito, Mike Smith, LeGarick Jeffries, Brandon Mercer and Dalton VanSteen — led to a 5-yard touchdown run by Stanley. The PAT was no good, but West led 20-14 with 7:19 left in the third quarter.

Ashley scored with 2:03 left. West, using an unbalanced line that confused the Ashley linemen, blocked the PAT, leaving the score tied 20-20.

The Trojans’ go-ahead touchdown drive began at the Ashley 48 with 9:03 left. In the 10-play drive, Tavon Stanley ran four times and Darguzas ran five times, scoring from the 1. Prevatte’s PAT gave West a 27-20 lead with 4:52 left.

The Screaming Eagles rallied and scored on a 35-yard pass with 40.1 seconds left, cutting the lead to 27-26. On the PAT, West’s rush caused the kicker to pull the kick inches outside the right upright post.

Ashley tried an onside kick, but Hewett recovered the ball and sprinted to the end zone for the victory-clinching score with 34.5 seconds left.

“I’m so, so proud of our guys fighting and making some plays when we had to,” Frazier said.

The team awaits the announcement Sunday, Nov. 10, of whom it will play in the first round of the state playoffs.

“We’re not without our Achilles’ heels,” Frazier said. “But we have gotten better in a lot of things.

“I don’t feel like (before this game) that we’re a two-win football team.

That sounds like coach-speak. But I’m all about getting better. And we are continuing to do that.”