As was scripted, the Judge-West football game was pretty much the blowout it was expected to be Friday afternoon.
You wouldn't have guessed that judging the way both crowds erupted in cheers following West's 40-22 victory, though.The Panther student body had plenty of reasons to cheer. They watched Rodregis Smith explode for three long-distance touchdowns. Their first-string defense for the most part knocked the socks off the Bulldogs. And it was the football team's second win in as many home games.
For the Bulldogs, the game has to be considered somewhat of a moral victory, and that might be all they get this year.
They would have preferred a better plot in the middle of the game, but Judge had to love the way it began and ended.
The Bulldogs took their first lead of the year in the opening quarter shortly after a player on West's special teams accidentally let a punt bounce off of him.
Junior Kyle Stetner pounced on the loose ball at West's 10-yard-line. Senior running back Joey Pannunzio then scampered four yards into the end zone. It was only the second time in four games Judge had put points on the scoreboard, and it gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead.
The euphoria lasted as long as it took Smith, West's flashy all-around star, to zoom 92 yards up the field for a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff.
"I don't know what was going on," Smith said. "I guess we underestimated them at first."
A quarter-and-a-half punt exchange followed, but it mercifully came to an end when West quarterback Rob Clark got hot right before halftime.
Clark hit three targets in a row to put the Panthers up 13-7 going into the locker room. His 29-yard TD toss to receiver Austin Drecksel was set up by a 50-yard pass play to rumbling fullback Wyane Alofipo.
West owned the third quarter. The Panthers only touched the ball eight times in the period, but they scored four touchdowns.
"Once we got it wound up, it seemed to go," understated Aloia, who played for Judge in his high school days.
The Panthers (2-2) admitted they were coasting at first, thinking they could coast against a struggling Bulldog team that had only scored one TD in its first three losses.
"We just needed to wake up and we did in the second half," said West defensive star Johnny Hamilton.
Singa Iloa opened the floodgates with a 3-yard run. West's next three scores were all highlight-reel worthy. Smith took a pitch from Clark and turned it into a 57-yard touchdown. Joe Hafoka then turned a sweep to the right side into a 52-yard TD jaunt on West's next one-play possession.
The scoring outburst came to an end when Smith flew down the field for an 87-yard touchdown run. It pushed West's lead to 40-7.
"I give it all to my blocking," said Smith, who ended with 140 yards rushing on three carries. "Without my blockers I wouldn't have scored those TDs. There's no `I' in team."
While West's starters sat and watched, Judge's varsity scored two touchdowns and a field goal in the one-sided fourth quarter.