HEBRON -- The first victory in Westminster Christian's inaugural football season remained elusive Saturday, but the Warriors' resolve to continue working toward it remained steadfast following a 54-27 loss to Alden-Hebron.
"We have homecoming next week and we have to play with pride and represent our school well and get that first win," said Westminster quarterback Max Tucker, who completed 13 of 24 attempts for 220 yards and 3 touchdowns. "Like I've said before, we just want to do our school proud. We just have to keep working hard. I think we're only a couple of plays away each game from blowing the game open."
Though the Warriors harbored preseason playoff aspirations, any such possibility ended with the harsh reality of a fifth straight loss to open the season, all against Northeastern Conference opponents. With mainly freshmen and sophomores populating both sides of the ball, the Warriors were mismatched physically against the more mature Giants and it showed. Alden-Hebron (3-2, 3-2) scored touchdowns on 6 of its 9 first-half possessions while amassing 325 total yards in two quarters.
The Giants did most of their damage via the running game. Senior Nick Beck before halftime scored 2 of his 3 touchdowns and rushed for 85 of his 129 yards to help the Giants take a 41-7 lead at the half. Junior Cody Nelson ran 3 times for 88 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown, and sophomore Nate Peterson finished the game with 70 yards and a touchdown.
"Pretty much (quarterback) Colten (Cashmore) would see if they were all to one side, then he'd (audible) and go to the other side or up the middle," Beck said. "We went straight up the field."
Meanwhile, Westminster Christian's offense found little room to maneuver against Alden-Hebron's starting lineup. Of the Warriors' 8 first-half possessions, 5 resulted in punts, another in an interception and they turned the ball over on downs at their own 19-yard line late in the second quarter. The Warriors finished the half with negative 41 yards rushing.
The positive? Freshman Scotty Graziano caught a 65-yard touchdown pass to trim the deficit to 21-7 on the final play of the first quarter
"I was supposed to be running a dig, but I saw the middle of the field open," Graziano said. "Tucker is a very good quarterback. He saw what I was trying to accomplish and he hit me perfectly."
Westminster scored on a 44-yard screen pass from Tucker to DeShawn Bloom early in the third quarter, but Beck's 44-yard touchdown run and Nelson's 41-yard strip and fumble return for a touchdown forced a running clock with 9:04 left in the third quarter.
The Warriors believe they'll break through for a victory yet.
"We still have almost half a season left and 4 games is a lot of football," Warriors coach John Davis said. "When we start clicking people are going to be really surprised. We see a lot of improvements. As coaches we see little bitty improvement every single week.
"We're going to keep on swinging."