OAKWOOD — West Hall opened the 2017 season with plenty of question marks, but the answers are starting to come -- and the Spartans have to like how they sound.
West Hall ripped off its third straight victory on Friday, fending off a determined Jackson County 31-21 in Oakwood.
The game showed just how far West Hall has come since getting shut out in its season opener, as the Spartans (3-1) denied the Panthers their first ever 4-0 start via all three phases of the game.
West Hall opened its scoring via defense, Tyler Grindle snagging an interception and returning it 24 yards for the touchdown. But the Spartans also scored on special teams -- a 40-yard field goal from Israel Lopez -- rushed for 227 yards and three scores-- including two for quarterback Michael Thompson -- and thenpicked off another pass to keep Jackson County at bay in the dying minutes.
Thompson's first touchdown, a 1-yard plunge with 24 seconds left in the first half, capped an impressive start that saw West Hall take a 17-0 lead into the locker room.
Yet the Panthers showed plenty of grit, scoring with 7:06 left in the third quarter on a 6-yard run for Noan Venable. And while Cooper Adams responded with a 5-yard touchdown run for a 24-7 advantage, the Spartans had to stay alert, as the Panthers kept battling. Grey Akins' 1-yard touchdown pass to Chad Pittman made it 24-14 with 11:02 to play.
Thompson's second 1-yard scoring run provided more breathing room at 31-14 with 8:13 to play. But Venable would not let his team fade, scoring from 2 yards to make it 31-21. The Panthers then forced a fumble and recovered possession.
But the Spartans defense was there to maintain the cushion, Cameron Shirley picking off a fourth down pass to seal the win.
West Hall travels to Dawson County next week.
Jackson County plays host to East Hall next week.