Chaps comeback falls short against Bowie

Down 0-21 early in the second quarter against Bowie Sept. 27, the Chaparrals football players found themselves in a familiar position.

Three touchdowns from Bowie quarterback senior Austin Eschenburg, two of which were through the air and one on the ground led Bowie to the early lead, and now the game was teetering on the edge of a blowout. To most teams, the game would be a lost cause, but the Chaps weren’t fazed — they’d come back before against Temple and A&M Consolidated, and when Westlake running back senior Alex Chavez found the endzone on an 8-yard run to cut the Bowie lead to 7-21, they knew they were back in the ballgame.

“We felt optimistic about our chances,” offensive lineman junior Joe Gallinghouse said. “We had been in that situation before, so we definitely knew we could win.”

Following the break, Westlake came out looking like a new football team. The defense, which could seemingly not stop the Bowie offense in the first half, buckled down, holding Bowie scoreless in the third quarter.

“[We started] doing our jobs — taking care of our assignments,” associate head coach Ted Willmann said. “We needed to do that better in the first half.”

Senior Dallen Nelson’s 36-yard field goal set the score at 10-21 heading into the fourth, and following the kickoff, the Westlake defense forced Bowie to punt.

Six plays later, Alex found the endzone again on a 26-yard run, his second TD of the game. The two-point conversion failed and Westlake trailed 16-21.

“He runs the ball well,” Willmann said. “He just keeps getting better and better.”

Westlake had a chance to take the lead on its next possession, but failed to convert on a fourth down. A few plays later, Austin was picked off again by defensive back senior Matt Andreo. But again, Westlake was unable to score and the ball changed hands with just over a minute left in the fourth. It was one of many missed opportunities for the Chaps, who had several chances to take the lead late in the game.

“We had a stretch in there where we just weren’t throwing and catching the ball well,” Willmann said. “You have to be able to do that well, especially against a one-high safety team like Bowie where they are trying to pressure [the QB] and put extra people up front to stop the run.”

The defense held its ground on the first three plays, forcing a fourth and one deep in Bowie territory, but a gutsy call to go for it clinched the game for the Bulldogs, as Austin ran the football up the middle for a 6-yard gain, picking up the first down in the process.

“That was a gutsy call,” Willmann said. “[Bowie head coach Jeff Ables] was trying to win the game. He gave us a lot of respect with that play call — he was trying to keep it away from our offense. That was a critical call, but there were 10, 20 or 25 other calls that really decided the game.”

The 16-21 loss was Westlake’s third ever to Bowie, with the last one coming in 2010. The Chaps face off against Akins at home on Friday and they will come out with a new mindset.
“We have to treat every game like it’s a playoff game,” Joe said. “From here on out, we need to win every game.”