Western football continued to roll this past weekend, as they captured their third straight win in a 33-10 road victory against the Lions of Missouri Southern State.
After the game was delayed for an hour due to the presence of lightning, the MIAA battle got going, and Western did not waste any time in getting on the scoreboard.
After back-to-back weeks of the offense firing on all cylinders and lighting up the scoreboard for a combined 104 points over the course of the two games, they took some time to find their rhythm against the Lions. The defense also eventually found its groove, which has allowed the Griffons’ defense to be among the league leaders in takeaways thus far this season.
Western was able to do what all great teams do and find a way to win this game, even when their offense and defense came out of the gate somewhat sluggish. This week, it was the special teams that came to the rescue and provided the spark that proved enough to push the Griffons to victory. Sophomore kicker Sam Aviles, in his second week filling in for injured kicker Tyler Basch, made four of his five field goal attempts for the day, which accounted for almost half of Western’s points for the day.
“Going into the game, I just needed to have the mindset that it’s my time to show others what I can do, and once I finally got the opportunity, I took advantage of it,” Aviles said.
The return unit also showed up and made some big time plays when they mattered, highlighted by senior defensive back Brandin Dandridge’s 54-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Fresh off his breakout game just one week ago, freshman linebacker Kobe Cummings continued to play at an exceptionally high level this week, leading the team with 12 total tackles, while adding his first career touchdown when he rumbled home a fumble recovery from 21 yards out.
“We have three words that we like to retain to within the defense, and those are passion, pursuit and precision,” Cummings said. “We never question our passion for the game out on the field, so we really focus on pursuing, trying to get all 11 guys rallying to the player with the ball every play and staying precise in our play calls and communication throughout the entire game. We are being physical from the beginning and bringing the game to our opponents instead of them bringing the game to us.”
On the ground, sophomore Shamar Griffith rushed for a career high 119 yards, including an 86-yard rushing touchdown on the opening play of the game.
“As frustrating as it is to not be able to be consistent in our operation, it is really encouraging knowing that we all have each other’s backs,” senior quarterback Dom Marino said. “What is even more exciting is knowing that if we can consistently que all phases together on the same page we can make some stuff happen. So, our main focus is to minimize mistakes to be able to fire on all cylinders. Our identity is to throw punches even when we are on the ropes, and our guys have been doing just that.”
Western will look to stay hot this weekend as they host Central Oklahoma on Saturday for Homecoming. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.