SPRINGFIELD – The Westfield High School football team pulled off one for the ages.
No. 3 Westfield stunned second-seeded Central in a West Sectional Division 2 football semifinal 26-25 Friday night at Berte Field. For the Bombers, it was one of the school’s biggest pigskin victories in recent memory.
“Absolute euphoria,” Westfield senior quarterback Austin St. Pierre said after players, coaches, fans, and band members stormed the field in celebration. The band, under the direction of Patrick Kennedy, played the school song at midfield as players huddled together in a scene more reminiscent of a college rivalry game.
“Every person who stepped on this field contributed,” St. Pierre said. “This was for our whole entire city … for the seniors who played back when I was a freshman.”
Four years ago, the Central Golden Eagles soared past the Westfield Bombers in the sectional final, ruining the Whip City’s chances for a Super Bowl championship.
This time, Westfield would not be denied.
Westfield (8-1) got the start it wanted to begin. Despite allowing Central (6-3) to march 55 yards downfield from the outset, the Bombers stopped the Golden Eagles on a key third down play. The Golden Eagles missed a 27-yard field goal to end the drive.
The tide slowly turned from there though.
Westfield took over, but turned the ball over on an interception. The Bombers appeared to stop Central on the ensuing drive but a key offsides penalty on 4th-and-four just outside the red zone extended the drive.
Central took advantage, moving the ball at small clips. The Golden Eagles finally scored on a four-yard touchdown run from junior running back Anthony Owens with 2:58 remaining in the opening quarter. The extra point kick failed.
Westfield had the ball for just three series, save for a few meaningless seconds before the half. The Bombers’ best effort came early in the second quarter when St. Pierre drove his team all the way to the four-yard line before a sensational interception near the goal line ended the drive.
Westfield attempted to gain some momentum.
Westfield opened the third quarter with a nine-play, 65-yard drive that ended with an 18-yard touchdown throw from St. Pierre to Zach Adam with 6:36 left in the third quarter. Wilton Royal’s 2-point run made it 8-6.
Central reached into its bag of tricks to tie the game.
After Central intercepted the ball deep in Westfield territory late in the third quarter, the Golden Eagles scored on a 26-yard flea flicker when senior quarterback Eriziah Walker connected with Jordan Lowery for a 38-yard touchdown strike. The score came with 2:06 left in the quarter.
Central’s defense forced a three-and-out. The Golden Eagles offense produced another touchdown on the first play of the drive, scoring on Walker’s 34-yard pass to Myles Bradley. The extra point made it 19-8.
Westfield responded with a bolt of lightning, striking on Royal’s 96-yard kickoff return for touchdown to end the quarter. The Bombers trailed, 19-14.
Westfield reclaimed the lead in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter when Mark Blahut took a handoff on a sweep, burst through the secondary untouched and scored from 43 yards away. The Bombers led 20-19.
Central came back with another touchdown of its own. The Golden Eagles marched the ball 59 yards in seven plays, scoring on a keeper from Walker with 7:52 left for a 25-20 advantage.
Westfield proved resilient. The Bombers put together a long drive as well, moving the ball all the way from their own 30 to the Central end zone and scoring on St. Pierre’s one-yard plunge.
After the two-point play failed, Westfield led 26-25 with 2:29 left.
Central made one last hurrah, taking its final drive at the two-minute warning. The Golden Eagles drove all the way down to the Bombers’ six-yard line, but time ran out before they could run another play.
Next up for Westfield: a divisional final against No. 4 West Springfield (7-2), a surprise 26-19 winner over top-seeded Chicopee Comp (7-2).