It’s better to win ugly than lose pretty.
The old adage was not more true than when the West Jefferson High School football team went up against visiting Cedarville Friday.
Admittedly, both teams had their problems, but the Roughriders (3-1) responded when they needed to most and registered a 37-20 victory over the Indians (1-3) in a game that was much closer than the final score would indicate.
“We don’t want to turn our nose up at a win, but we have to get a lot better,” said West Jefferson head coach Shawn Buescher. “We were sloppy, we weren’t consistent.”
Each team was looking for a spark. The Roughriders were the first to light a fuse.
Midway through the third quarter, with WJ holding a slim 10-8 lead, Roughriders defensive end, Shane Bumgardner, scooped up an errant Cedarville fumble and returned it to near paydirt. West Jeff running back, Gabe Jones, finished it off from short range, tallying one of his four touchdowns of the night.
After a couple of three-and-outs by both teams, the Indians decided they wanted to make it interesting. Cedarville running back, Kane Odon, took the hand-off and rambled 84 yards down the Roughriders sideline to the endzone. Their two-point attempt failed, maintaining the home squad’s three-point advantage.
Then in response, West Jeff put together their best drive of their night. A ten-play drive that covered 56 yards culminated with a nifty one-yard bootleg run by Roughriders quarterback Justin Williams.
A rarity on the night occurred on that drive as the run-heavy Roughriders completed one of just a handful of pass attempts on the night. The Williams to Tyler Oberle 24-yarder was essential when the running game started to stagnate.
With the home team holding a 24-14 lead entering the final quarter, the visiting Indians appeared to get their second wind.
Cedarville put together a 14-play drive — all on the ground — to inch closer. Brandon Pollock took it in from five yards away to trim the West Jeff lead once again, this time with just five minutes to play.
Now it was Jones’ turn to take over. Cedarville did a fine job most of the night controlling the West Jefferson ground game by not allowing big chunks of real estate in a single run. Jones changed that with scoring runs of 22 and 41 yards in a two minute span near game’s end to reach the lopsided outcome.
Jones had 14 of his team-leading 127 yards on the ground to open up the scoring in the first quarter. The Roughriders went into the locker room at the half with a 10-8 lead thanks to a 32-yard field goal by kicker Nathaniel Dersom, who was perfect on the night with his extra point attempts as well.
West Jeff was led on defense by Dylan Lambert and Oberle with seven tackles each, and Luis Carmona who (along with Oberle) had a pair of tackles for loss.
“I want to give Cedarville credit — they played hard,” Buescher said. “But we just have to get better.”