West Orange-Stark defeats Hardin-Jefferson; details released for playoff against Belleville

Published 11:05 pm Friday, November 3, 2023

SOUR LAKE — The West Orange-Stark Mustangs wrapped up the regular season Friday night with a dominant 61-7 win over the Hardin-Jefferson Hawks in Sour Lake.

The Mustangs excelled on both sides of the ball, scoring a staggering nine touchdowns while holding the Hawks to just one score and forcing six turnovers.

“We just came out here and played,” Mustangs head coach Hiawatha Hickman said after the win. “We had an extra week to get healed up. You go through a lot during the season, so I think we needed that week to heal, make some corrections and get our balance back.”

WO-S set the tone early.

West Orange-Stark student-athletes played as a team in all phases of Friday’s win over Hardin-Jefferson. (Keagan Smith/The Leader)

Tahj Amerson scored the Mustangs’ first TD on their opening drive with a four-yard rush. A sack by Ja’Terraius Brown ended a Hardin-Jefferson possession and an interception by Amyrian Scott stymied the Hawks’ next drive, too.

The Mustangs struck again with a 37-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Turner Jr. to Key’Shawn Robinson along the left sideline.

Robinson found the end zone once more just three minutes later when he took a reception 40 yards to the house for his second touchdown of the night.

Hardin-Jefferson put its first points on the scoreboard with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Samuel Jones midway through the second quarter following a Mustang turnover deep in their own territory.

However, WO-S made up for it and scored three more TDs before halftime, starting with a 45-yard run by Khelvy Jefferson. An interception by Amerson gave the ‘Stangs the ball back before Nicholas Crosson took a 10-yard jet sweep across the goal line. Finally, Jalen Gilmore recovered a fumble and rumbled 42 yards for a scoop-and-score.

By halftime, the Mustangs had blown the game wide open and held a 42-7 lead.

The silver-and-blue received the ball to begin the second half as Ja’Mikael Davis replaced Turner Jr. at quarterback. Jefferson rushed for a 10-yard TD on the drive to extend the lead, 48-7.

Jamarr O’Neal later got on the board with a 15-yard rushing score of his own.

The ‘Stangs kept rolling as Crosson intercepted an errant throw to set up yet another scoring drive. Michael Turner broke free and took a handoff 34 yards as WO-S continued to run up the score. At the end of the third quarter, they were ahead 61-7.

West Orange’s defense had stifled the Hawks all night, and that didn’t change in the final frame. Davis intercepted a pass halfway through the fourth quarter. With the starters pulled, the Mustangs ran the clock out.

By the time the dust settled, West Orange-Stark had secured a 61-7 win along with the fourth, and final, playoff spot in 4A-II’s District 9.

The Mustangs will face a familiar opponent in the first round of the playoffs — the Bellville Brahmas. WO-S is 4-1 against the Brahmas in their last five meetings but were bounced from the postseason by them last season.

“Bellville’s a district-champion team,” Hickman said. “They’re old school, so we’ll see a slot-T offense. We’ll be prepared, though. We’ve got some stuff in our bag at West Orange-Stark for when we play the Slot-T.”

This week’s playoff game, with have WOS as the home team and Belleville as the visitors. It will be played at Falcon Stadium in Huffman on Friday (Nov. 10), beginning at 7:30 p.m. All tickets are $8.

— Written by Keagan Smith