The Tigers made it a contest early, but the Griffons ultimately walked away with a 52-21 victory over Fort Hays.
Just when it looked like Tigers quarterback Treveon Albert had Western on its hills early, the Griffons pulled away with a balanced attack on offense.
Returner Dominic Thomas started the scoring rout with a 96-yard kick-off return in the first quarter.
Fort Hays had no answer for running back Raphael Spencer and the running game. Spencer walked away with 84 yards and two touchdowns.
“It felt good,” Spencer said. “A lot of people stepped up, like Dom (Dominic Thomas) and a lot of the linemen, too. We have not played a perfect game yet, but it seems like everything is coming into a circle.”
Spencer led a rushing attack that racked up 240 yards total. Western had four straight drives resulting in touchdowns in a variety of ways.
Quarterback Travis Partridge connected with wide out Derek Libby for a 17-yard touchdown pass, following three rushing touchdowns total between Spencer and Dalton Krysa.
Head coach Jerry Partridge said he did not like the mental errors his team committed, but was pleased with how they finished.
“Fort Hays battled,” coach Partridge said. “We did not tackle very well in space and they had some pretty good drives. Their mistakes helped us knock it through and get the big lead.”
Albert was a threat on his legs and he continued to threaten the red zone on Western’s defense. He ran for 56 yards, with 14 yards being his longest gain.
“That kid can make everybody miss,” coach Partridge said. “He is very elusive, like a wide receiver playing quarterback. I don’t think we played very good defense in the first half.”
Linebacker Stephen Juergens led the defense with nine tackles. The Griffons were able to shut out the passing game of the Tigers, forcing Albert to throw two interceptions.
Partridge went 13-22 for 152 yards and had two passing touchdowns. He threw one interception early on in the game, but was flawless throughout the rest.
To finish the game off, Western turned to their dynamic running back crew to run the clock down to another victory.
Thomas was impressed with how effective the running game was and felt it spoke to the different weapons he thinks his team possesses.
“We thrive off of each other’s success,” Thomas said. “It was just good for all of us to spread it out and see each other succeed.”
The special teams were dominant all-around and Thomas noted he was happy to bring that extra spark.
“It was a momentum changer,” Thomas said. “Any big play off of special teams motivates the offense or defense to play harder.”