The Westby Norsemen traveled to Lancaster in non-conference action on Friday, Sept. 8. Hulst said Lancaster runs the option with great success so the Norsemen needed to play sound on both sides of the field.
Westby showed improvement running and throwing offensively and tightened up its defense shutting down nearly everyone for the Flying Arrows, with the exception of senior Evan Gates who tallied up seven touchdowns and 256 yards. Gates racked up 2,294 yards rushing in his junior year and is well on his way to another outstanding year in 2017.
Westby came out quick against Lancaster taking its first drive into the end zone aided by a 43 yard carry by Ryan Daines. The Norseman led 7-0 following the 5-play, 70-yard drive.
Lancaster caught a break on its next drive when they were forced to punt, but the ball hit the foot of a Norsemen and bounced into the arms of the Flying Arrows giving them excellent field position deep in Westby territory. Gates ran it in for his first touchdown of the night to tie the game, 7-7.
Lancaster went up 14-7 with 3:00 left in the first quarter and Westby tied it up, 14-14, in the second quarter with 8:13 on the clock. Sam Strangstalien intercepted a pass from Lancaster quarterback Evan Straka and moved the ball from the 45-yard-line to the 27-yard line for an 18-yard gain. Daines ran it in for the score and Grant Dayton aced the extra point.
The see saw scoring continued with Gates rushing 17 yards into the end zone for the Flying Arrows who went back on top, 21-14. The Norsemen offense came right back with a nice pass play from quarterback Alex Gluch to Devontae Spears for a 80 yard play that ended with a touchdown. Westby trailed by one after missing the extra point, 21-20.
The Gates’ show continued when he landed in the end zone again with 1:10 seconds left on the clock before halftime. Lancaster led 28-20 at the break.
The Westby defense played a solid first half of football despite losing key players in Brad Ackerman and Cody Russell to injury earlier in the week. Head Coach Andy Hulst said the team has lost four starters to injury without even seeing any Coulee Conference action yet.
Dayton, Bjorn Leum, Gunnar Hanson, Chevy Knight and others made some key defensive stops for the Norsemen, but everyone struggled to slow down Gates. In the second half Lancaster converted more to its option offense, testing the Norsemen defense, which was showing signs of fatigue as the game progressed. Lancaster led 42-20 at the end of the third quarter.
Westby didn’t give up and put up 13 points in the second half including Alex Gluch running 66 yards into the end zone off an quarterback option play. Hunter Ward put up Westby’s final eight points scoring a touchdown and running in the two-point conversion. Westby lost to Lancaster 56-34.
Hulst said Lancaster was physical and fast and Westby needs to look ahead , not back. He said offensively he was glad to see Westby come out of the gate quickly and score, but defensively the team needs to be better disciplined in its responsibilities, with less mental breakdowns in the second half of action.
Westby opens up its Coulee Conference schedule heading to Viroqua on Friday, Sept. 15. Hulst said the Viroqua matchup is always a tough game because of the rivalry factor.
“Emotions will be running high and we need to keep our heads in the game, put points on the scoreboard early, and not make mistakes,” Hulst said.
Lancaster 56 Westby 34
Lancaster 14 14 14 14 — 56
Westby 7 13 0 14 — 34