The West Henderson Falcon football team maintained their winning streak on Friday, Aug. 30 when they defeated the Hendersonville Bearcats, 16-13.
In the first minute of this highly anticipated rivalry matchup, senior Auden Brennan launched an 82-yard pass to senior Austin Jenkins for an opening drive touchdown. The Falcon defense was able to hold out the Bearcats on their opening drive, only allowing one first down. At the end of the first quarter, the score was 7-0, with West trying to hold out the scoreless Bearcats on the goal line.
“After that first touchdown pass I threw, I just knew that they we had them right where we wanted them,” Brennan said. “I could see them start to get frustrated with each other and I knew they were starting to get discouraged.”
At the beginning of the second quarter, West was able to force a field goal try by the Bearcats. Their attempted field goal missed as it frayed left of the goal post. The rest of the second quarter was a back and forth turnover battle between the Bearcats and Falcons. West was unable to score, but the defense kept Hendersonville out of the endzone for the entire quarter. At the end of the first half, the score remained the same.
“I was so impressed by how the defense played,” Defensive Coordinator Jason Livingston said. “The players get helmet stickers for every turnover they get, so I told them to be greedy tonight. We let East Rutherford score 42 points on us. It was really tough last week and we faced a lot of challenges.”
To start the second half, the Bearcat quarterback threw his fourth interception of the night into the hands of senior Chandler Both. This was the start of another turnover-heavy quarter; however, the Falcon offense picked up their pace. A safety gave the Falcons another two points to lead and a 23-yard touchdown pass to senior Kyle Gaither. The Bearcats responded with a rushing touchdown. On their extra point attempt, they were not able to kick the ball through the uprights. With signs of improving offense from both teams at the end of the third quarter, the score was now 16-6, Falcons still in the lead.
“After the game I had, I felt crazy,” Gaither said. “We were all nervous and hyped up. It felt like we needed this win more than anything in the world. We knew Hendersonville would be the team we had to beat this year. I feel like we could go undefeated this season.”
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Brennan threw his second interception of the night to a Hendersonville cornerback. After the pick, the Bearcats were able to achieve another rushing touchdown against West’s defense. As the Bearcats inched their way back into the endzone in the final four minutes, they attempted a third field goal. The ball was tipped by the Falcons’ special teams unit, and the Bearcats missed. After that, all the Falcons had to do was kneel the ball to secure the win over their county rival. As the clock ran down to zero, cheers from the crowd echoed in the mountain air, and a sea of white flooded out from the student section onto the field to congratulate the team.
“This will be a pivotal moment in West Henderson High School history, being able to storm the field and beating Hendersonville after such a long time,” senior AJ Shaffer said. “It was just such a great moment. I love being able to watch our team get things done and support them.”
The Falcons played another county rival, the East Henderson Eagles, on their field on Friday, Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
By: Stone Hogan, Sports Editor; and Cole Braswell, Feature Writer