As the Bishop Ireton football team piled up the points against rival St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes on Saturday, Cardinal coaches, guarding against complacency, instructed players to continue putting forth max effort.
An early 21-0 Ireton lead grew into a 42-13 advantage in the fourth quarter when junior Malcolm Westbrook, who had already scored two touchdowns, considered letting up. SSSAS had just punted the ball from its own end zone. The kick was short but started to bounce and roll toward Westbrook, who was standing near the Ireton sideline. After initially backing away, No. 7 made his move.
"I didn’t really want to even catch it," Westbrook said, "but the coaches told me to keep going, so I just scooped it up and ran."
All the way to the end zone.
While the Saints’ punt team appeared to slow down, Westbrook picked up the ball and raced 38 yards for a touchdown, placing the finishing touches on a 49-13 Cardinals victory on Sept. 25 at SSSAS. The win improved Ireton to 1-3 while SSSAS dropped to 0-3.
Prior to his punt return for a touchdown, Westbrook caught five passes for 50 yards and two scores.
"Malcolm’s a special kid," Ireton head coach Anthony Verducci said. "I say that not just as a football player, but as a person. He probably has more fun when he plays the game than anybody I know. It just shows you that if you play with that joy, those opportunities seem to find you. They don’t find people who sulk. They find people who are always looking for an opportunity to do something and that embodies the kind of player Malcolm is."
Westbrook was just one of the offensive threats Ireton spent a hot, sunny afternoon showing off against the Saints. Junior running back Moses Webb rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and caught four passes for 63 yards and another score. Early in the first quarter, sophomore quarterback P.J. Zingler threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Rivers that was wiped out by offsetting penalties. On the next play, Zingler found Webb in a similar position in the right flat and the running back worked his way into the end zone.
"Moses has incredible vision and a feel for the game," Verducci said. "He has the best football IQ of anybody on our team and probably anybody that’s been at Ireton in the last two or three years. He has the ability to make a good play — a first down — into a touchdown."
Webb’s touchdown was part stretch where Ireton reached the end zone three times in five plays from scrimmage. Zingler connected with Westbrook early in the opening period for an 11-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. After Ireton recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Webb scored to put the Cardinals up 14-0. Three plays into the next SSSAS drive, the Saints attempted a backward pass that bounced in front of the intended receiver. Ireton linebacker Edmond Curry scooped up the loose ball and raced 30 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 advantage. Ireton led by at least 14 points the rest of the way and Cardinals fans were having fun.
"The key of today’s game was to come out and pound them in the mouth [early]," Webb said. "That’s what we did and that’s how we came out with the win."
Zingler completed 15 of 20 passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns. He was intercepted once. Tight end Tom Gallinaro caught four passes for 39 yards and quarterback Andrew Bladen scored a rushing touchdown. Defensively, Theo Daubresse led the Cardinals with 11 tackles.
The Saints trailed 28-13 at halftime but were outscored 21-0 in the second half. Wide receiver Jelani Molock scored on a 15-yard pass from quarterback Brent Armstrong in the first quarter and quarterback Percy Martin connected with tight end Darius Lee for a 27-yard score in the second quarter.
Ireton will travel to face Bullis at 1 p.m. on Oct. 2. SSSAS will host Randolph Macon Academy at 1 p.m. on Oct. 2.