For the fourth straight week, the Warriors took on a ranked opponent as they welcomed in #4 Akron-Westfield. Alta-Aurelia trailed just 8-0 at the half, but the Westerners found traction with 20 straight in the third as they took the Warriors' shots and got out with a 34-18 win as they improved to 7-0.
"The kids went toe to toe with a very good football team," said Alta-Aurelia head coach Kevin Hammer. "They came out and got 20 on us in the third and kind of took the wind out of our sails, but the kids fought back and made a close game of it. I'm proud of there efforts. Credit to Akron-Westfield. They made the plays when they had to."
The Warriors took the opening kick and burned the better part of the first quarter as they marched all the way down to the 30 before their drive stalled out. Akron-Westfield took out the rest of the quarter, marching all the way down to the A-A two-yard line, where they were turned back on fourth down and goal.
The Warriors were able to get out of the shadow of their own goal post with a trio of first downs, before punting and pinning A-W on the two yard line. A pair of long runs by Westerner star running back Taylor James brought them out across midfield. They would march into the red zone, and Eskra capped off the four-yard TD run with 1:47 left in the half. He then linked up Chance Hoffman on a nice grab for the two point conversion and an 8-0 lead at intermission.
"We just didn't have the field position in the first half," said Hammer. "We were backed up on our goal line, and couldn't push it far enough to make a scoring threat. Still, we did a nice job of stopping their offense and really tackled well. We did a nice job of burning some clock and sustaining drives and keeping the ball away from them."
A-W came out strong in the second half as James tacked on two more TD runs in the third quarter, and Eskra found Hoffman on TD pass.
Alex Stephan stopped the bleeding in the third with a 1-yard run to make it a 28-6 game. Garrett Van Houten made it 28-12 with a 29-yard TD run in the fourth, but James countered with his third rushing score soon after. Van Houten tacked on a 7-yarder at the end.
The Warriors rushed 50 times for 147 yards on the night and were 4-of-12 passing for 60 yards. Van Houten had 20 rushes for 75 yards and the two scores. Mark Stender stepped in for Manny Murillo and rushed 17 times for 52 yards.
"Our offensive line is getting better and better," said Hammer. "We were without Manny and Jeremiah Ruby, but Mark Stender stepped in and ran the ball well, and Jackson Rosenthal was flying all over the field at middle linebacker after we just threw him there Thursday basically.
Eskra totaled 270 yards passing as he completed 17-of-24 on the night. The Westerners rushed 41 times for 165 yards.
Alta-Aurelia drops to 1-6 with the loss and 1-4 in the district. Next up is a road trip to Hinton, a team that sits just outside the top-ten in the latest AP rankings.
"I've been doing this 20 years, and this is the toughest district I've been in," said Hammer. "I told the kids, we're a very good foot ball team, but there are a lot of great team in this area. That's just the way it is. The kids are working extremely hard every week. They're getting better. It's unfortunate to not have more W's. They're doing everything we ask of them. Hinton is another ranked team. I'm sure we'll prepare well. We have all year. They've got a good quarterback and receiver tandem. They're a well coached team. It's another challenge. We'll be ready for it."