Jackson helps West Greene beat California for 1st time since 2003

Friday, October 4, 2019 | 11:05 PM

In a marquee Class A contest, California and West Greene had two of the top offenses in all of the WPIAL.

On Friday night, the Trojans’ offense couldn’t muster any consistent flow on the field and had no answer for West Greene’s Ben Jackson on the ground.

The Pioneers tallied 28 points in the second half and secured a 35-0 victory at Kennedy Field to garner the inside track for first place in the Tri-County South with one conference game left in the regular season.

“They were the better football team tonight,” Cal coach Ed Woods said. “I am not going to give any excuses, they were just better tonight. They have a good line, and Jackson is tough to slow down. We were OK at halftime, I thought, but things just didn’t work out for us.”

The win was West Greene’s first over Cal since 2003. The Trojans (4-3, 3-1) had won the last 13 meetings.

“We had to be very disciplined on defense,” WG coach Brian Hanson said. “Cal throws a lot of different formations at you. We were lined up right, and we executed at the line of scrimmage. They have a lot of skilled guys, and we had to contain them. The kids brought into the message this week, and we had to get over the hump against Cal.”

Jackson, who led the WPIAL in rushing yards and touchdowns coming into the night, finished the game with 282 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns for the Pioneers (7-0, 6-0).

“This was a big win for us,” the senior running back said. “All of the credit goes to my line and the offense. We were motivated tonight and knew that California was our toughest test this season so far. The defense made plays all night, and this was a huge program win for us.”

After Cal went three-and-out on its opening drive and botched the punt attempt, West Greene had the ball at its 25-yard line. However a play later, Jackson fumbled it right back to the visitors.

Both offenses were stuck in neutral on the next couple of drives until the Pioneers mounted a solid drive led by the running of Jackson. The drive stalled out at the 10-yard line after quarterback Nathan Orndoff fumbled the ball on a bootleg attempt at the 7-yard line.

The Trojans made two more red zone stops on the next two possessions for the home team with stopping Jackson on fourth-and-goal from the 5-yard line and a missed 29-yard field goal by Kevin Thompson.

After Cal picked up one first down, they were forced to punt back to West Greene. Four plays later, Jackson got loose and rumbled for a 55-yard score for the game’s first points. Thompson made the successful PAT for the 7-0 edge with 37 seconds left in the first half.

The first half was dictated by defense and turnovers. The teams combined for five turnovers, and the Trojans were limited to 7 yards compared to West Greene’s 170.

In the third quarter, Jackson went 73 yards for a score on the first play of the second half. On the play, Jackson moved into second place in all-time in rushing yards in Greene County.

“Ben is just special,” Hanson said. “I might be biased, but he’s the best running back in the WPIAL this season. He has all the talent in the world, but this season he has really shown a lot of urgency on the field. He wants to carry this team, and his mentality is to just play winning football.”

The Pioneers went up 21-0 after Gavin Scott recovered a fumble in the end zone. West Greene’s final two scores came courtesy of a 3-yard rushing touchdown by Kolin Walker and a 2-yard scoring toss to Wesley Whipkey from Scott.

Cal managed 60 yards of total offense.

“We have to regroup,” Woods said. “These final three weeks are very important for us. We have to get healthy and just get back to the things we do well. There’s plenty on the line for us. We have to look at the film and learn from our mistakes.”

Cal returns home Friday against Bentworth, and West Greene travels to Clairton for a nonconference clash.

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