PAYSON – A few minutes after its game against Westlake on Friday, Payson put on a fireworks show above the stadium. But those were the only fireworks the home team came up with that night.
Westlake got the biggest win of its brief two-year history, and simultaneously handed the Lions their worst loss since 2003, by a 50-7 score.
From start to finish it seemed like a game where one team could do no wrong and the other could never get anything right. The Thunder gobbled up yards in huge chunks and, aside from one exchange in the first quarter, never looked vulnerable on defense.
"Our defense stepped up to the challenge and performed well," said Westlake quarterback John Ursua. "Our offensive line did a great job blocking. The receivers did a great job catching and taking it to the house. We played a great game overall."
Things started off badly for the Lions when one of their first snaps sailed over the head of the quarterback and resulted in a safety.
That was all the momentum Westlake needed. They quickly got into a rhythm and built a 23-7 lead by the end of the first quarter.
"We came off the bus flat," said Westlake coach Jason Walker. "We felt it took us a little bit longer to get started than what we would have liked. (The Lions) have got good athletes. They got us early but we made a few adjustments."
Payson managed to slow the game down and control possession more in the second quarter, but couldn't put any points on the board and still trailed by the same 16-point deficit at halftime.
Coming out of the locker room in the second half, the Thunder got rolling immediately and quickly blew the game open.
On the second play of the third quarter, Ursua flipped a swing pass to Brand Aldstadt. The senior wideout turned down the sidelines and sprinted 55 yards into the end zone for the score.
A few minutes later, another long catch and run by Aldstadt set up Taylor Riding's leaping 34-yard TD catch in the corner of the end zone and the Thunder led 36-7.
"We've had trouble in the second half of our first two games," said Walker. "We were able to get the ball rolling a little better in the second half today. We were happy about that."
The fourth quarter was more of the same as Ursua connected with a wide open Aus Fotheringham for a 15-yard score, and then turned a broken play into 60-yard TD strike to Aldstadt.
"We knew they had man-to-man coverages," said Ursua. "We just chose to dump it off and get as many yards as we could."