Staff Photo: Jason Braverman On a pass intended for Westminster's Cole Haverty (47), the Wesleyan defense, including Rhett Delk (25), David Monte (26) and Christian Stark (2) break up the pass during Friday's game at Wesleyan.
NORCROSS --Wesleyan head coach Franklin Pridgen couldn't fault his players' effort against bigger, deeper Westminster on Friday night.
But gutsiness couldn't trump a mistake-filled evening.
The host Wolves' two interceptions, one returned for a score, a bad punt snap and a nightmarish third quarter led to a 42-17 loss in Region 6-AA play. Westminster (3-5) and Wesleyan (4-4) are now even at 1-1 in the region standings.
"That was not in the game plan," Pridgen said of the errors. "We gave them 14 points right away with the snap and the pick 6 and we had another pick. We had a couple of defensive misalignments that they took advantage of. Believe it or not, I'm proud of our kids' effort. I'm proud of the way we played.
"We fought with them. We were outmanned at the line of scrimmage in terms of size and strength, but our kids battled."
Down just 14-3 at halftime, the Wolves threw an interception on the first play of the third quarter that turned into a Wildcats touchdown four plays later. Wesleyan tried to answer on downs but turned the ball over on downs at the Westminster 5-yard line, and the visitors drove 95 yards for a score and a 28-3 lead.
Four plays later, Westminster's Clay Smith returned an interception 22 yards for a score and a 35-3 lead that created a running clock in the fourth quarter.
"I'd like to take back that third quarter," Pridgen said. "That got away from us."
Wesleyan could have been down just 7-3 at halftime, but a special teams mistake dug a deeper hole. At midfield, the Wolves' snapper rifled a high snap over the punter's head that was finally covered at the 21-yard line. Westminster scored on the next play for a 14-3 lead.
Outside of the two turnovers, Wesleyan's offense moved the ball effectively until it bogged down deep in Wildcat territory. Quarterback Will Anderson completed 18 of 33 passes for 247 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown pass to Jahmai Jones (eight catches, 145 yards) in the fourth quarter. Sam Carver (three catches for 28 yards), Charles Mack (three catches for 27 yards) and Christian Stark (three catches for 19 yards) also contributed in the passing game.
Running back Miles Smith also carried 13 times for 122 yards and a score.
"Our offense moved the ball up and down the field, we just had some red-zone problems," Pridgen said.
Westminster, which rebounded from a 30-0 loss to Greater Atlanta Christian in the region opener, piled up 417 total yards. Jake Forte threw for 112 yards and rushed for two scores to lead the Wildcats, while Cameron Seward (94 rushing yards) and Nigel Walker (92 rushing yards) gained most of their team's 216 rushing yards.