KENNESAW -- Kennesaw Mountain was unable to hold off a second-half surge by Westlake, as the Lions went on to win 45-10 on Friday night in the second round of Class AAAAAA state playoffs.
The loss marked the end of a historic season for Kennesaw Mountain (10-2), which won its first region championship and won a playoff game for the first time in program history.
Meanwhile, Westlake (10-2) moved on to face Carrollton next Friday in the third round.
The Lions rolled up 226 yards of offense in the second half and held the Mustangs to only 28. Westlake finished with 461 total yards of offense, while Kennesaw Mountain had 203.
“You know, at the end of the day, Westlake is a really good football team,” Kennesaw Mountain coach Caleb Carmean said. “I’m going to give them credit obviously, because they are a good football team, but (we) are a good football team, too.”
Jai’den Thomas got things started for Westlake in the third quarter, capping off a 75-yard drive with a 3-yard score. On Kennesaw Mountain’s ensuing drive, Harper Hollman intercepted Cayman Prangley at the Mustangs’ 5-yard line and ran the ball in for a touchdown to put the Lions up 28-10.
After forcing Kennesaw Mountain to punt on its next drive, Westlake got the ball at its own 38-yard line and went to work. Nine plays later, Zina Mulbah ran the ball in for a 10-yard score.
Clayton Powell-Lee intercepted Prangley on the Mustangs’ next drive, and with a dead-ball personal foul on Kennesaw Mountain, Westlake got the ball at the Mustangs’ 12. Grant Roundtree capped off the drive with a 30-yard field goal.
Thomas scored the Lions' final touchdown of the night on a 4-yard run.
“At the end of the day, when you get to playoff football, you have to be able to play all three phases of the game for four quarters,” Carmean said. “We had some errors and some mental miscues that we have to fix.”
Prangley finished the night with 41 passing yards, including a touchdown pass to Savion Riley, who had 33 yards on the night.
“Words can’t even describe how I feel about this group,” Carmean said. "They have done so much for this program. They have done so much for me and our coaches. They have really catapulted this program and put Kennesaw Mountain on the map.”
Things looked promising for Kennesaw Mountain early in the game.
Prangley connected with Riley halfway through the second quarter to take a 7-0 lead. Two Westlake penalties set the Mustangs up to kick off from the Lions’ 30, and they capitalized with an onside kick recovery by Jailen Taylor at the 20.
Kennesaw Mountain was unable to find the end zone, but Ty Roldan kicked a 31-yard field goal to go up 10-0.
Westlake had the answers, however, with a 14-yard touchdown run by Mulbah and a 2-yard touchdown pass from RJ Johnson to Travis Booker putting the Lions up 14-10 going into the half.
Despite the loss, Carmean said the told his players "to take pride in what they have done."
"They need to take pride in the fact they have done stuff that this place has never done. As a senior class, they have been 0-10, and now they have been 10-1, so that’s a huge testament to them.”