Defensive statement: Westside outlasts Bainbridge

Hosea Laney’s mantra is simple.

“Don’t let the opposing offense score, and you win the game,” the Westside defensive coordinator said.

Laney’s defense delivered that Friday against No. 6 Bainbridge.

The third-ranked Seminoles (5-0, 2-0 in 1-AAAA) scored 17 points in the first 13 minutes and played staunch defense for their third shutout of the season in a 17-0 win over the Bearcats at the Ed DeFore Sports Complex. Westside, which has allowed just 14 points this season, has now won 15 consecutive regular-season games.

“The defense carried us (Friday),” Westside head coach Sheddrick Risper said. “They’ve done that a lot this season. Coach Laney has the defense playing with very aggressively, and they’ve been tough to score on all season.”

Westside jumped out to a quick lead with a flurry of points in the first quarter, but the offense struggled during the game’s final 35 minutes. The defense more than picked up the slack.

The Seminoles forced five Bainbridge turnovers, including two interceptions in the fourth quarter inside their own 20-yard line that killed Bearcats scoring threats.

N.C. State-bound safety DeAnthony Green elevated inside his own 5-yard line for the first interception with less than seven minutes to play in the game. The turnover came after Bainbridge (4-1, 0-2) marched into Westside territory with two of its three plays of more than 10 yards in the game.

Richard Nash came up with the second interception on the Bearcats’ next drive, preserving the 17-0 lead.

“We had to come up with some big plays,” Green said. “They started to move the ball, but we did what we had to do, kept our mistakes minimal and made plays.”

The two interceptions ended capped the defense’s great night. Bainbridge entered the game averaging 25 points and 286 yards of offense. Westside held the Bearcats to just more than 100 yards of offense.

“It was a great team effort by our defense,” Laney said. “Right now, we’re playing our hearts out.”

It didn’t look like the game would turn into a defensive struggle by the way the game started.

The Seminoles scored on their first play from scrimmage, a 62-yard wide receiver pass from Devonte Gilbert to Rick Merritt. Less than 20 seconds into the game, Westside led 7-0.

German Ramirez made a 32-yard field goal on the Seminoles’ next possession, while Adrian Bentley rushed in from a yard out to put Westside up 17-0 with 11:16 to play in the second quarter.

But the Seminoles’ offense struggled to find consistency over the next three quarters.

Starting quarterback Cameron Jones missed some snaps with an injured ankle. Standout wide receiver Ronnie Carswell hurt his groin.

Robert Brown didn’t miss time, but he did struggle with fumbles, dropping the ball into the end zone on a drive early in the fourth quarter. The senior still had a strong night overall rushing for 150 yards on 25 carries.

“We just didn’t get the job done on offense after the first quarter,” Risper said. “We can’t keep putting the ball on the ground. We have to clean that up. But Bainbridge has a great team and a great defense, and they deserve some credit for slowing down our offense.”