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Amherst out-slugs Ken-East

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Friday night, the Tigers’ football team took that step – and then some.

Ja’Kye Womack scored three touchdowns as Amherst beat Kenmore East, 35-26, in the Section VI Class A season opener that was played at Adams Field.

After coming off of back-to-back 2-7 seasons the Tigers knew this was a chance to make a statement from the word ‘go’ that they were ready to turn the corner and string together a winning season.

“Everyone always asks you how is your team gonna be this year? Not being coy, I don’t know.” Beckman said. “You scrimmage and you practice each other, but until the bullets are live you don’t know what you’re gonna get out of guys. We made some great plays on defense and special teams early that kept our offense buoyed. We were kind of struggling to gain some traction offensively. The second half when we got within striking distance we came down the field and scored. Multiple guys making contributions, which you love to see. Just very proud of the effort.”

Womack was 8-for-10 for 63 yards through the air and another 66 yards rushing. He scored on a pick six just over a minute into the third quarter that extended the Tigers lead to 21-7. Womack also added a pair of TDs runs of 2 and 1 yard in the fourth quarter to secure the win as the Bulldogs played hard to the final play.

“It was a hard fight by our guys,” said Womack, who also had four tackles. “We came out, we struggled on offense (early) I think it was due to my part. I really wasn’t running the offense how it should be in the first half. Then our defense picked it up. Got three touchdowns. Then we picked up the offense in the second half.”

Making the win even more satisfying for the Tigers was the fact that they scored in all facets of the game: offense, defense and special teams.

Nick O’Neil set the tone early when he took a punt return 80 yards to the house two minutes into the game.

Rashawn Allen (two catches for 46 yards) had  a pick six of his own that put Amherst up 13-0 midway through the second quarter.

Desmond Lowe got Ken-East on the board in the second with the first of his two TD runs when he powered in from the three yard line. His second would come on an 11 yard run in the fourth.

QB Nate Murdie had touchdown runs of 8 and 10 yards as the Bulldogs used a hurry up offense to try and close the gap.  Though the Bulldogs didn’t go away they simply made too many turnovers and too many errors at crucial moments in the game.

“It always comes down to a couple plays to win or lose football games,” said Ken-East coach Pat Veltri, Sr.

“We preach about turnovers. Turnovers killed us. You commit three or four turnovers in a game you’re not gonna win.”

Dre Tyson and Marc Toledo led the Tigers with 12 tackles each.

Beckman felt one of the keys to victory was every time Ken-East threw a punch on the scoreboard, they were able to answer back in kind. Most of all, after falling shy in games last year, Beckman was happy to see his boys see it through until the final whistle.

“Going into tonight one of our words was finish,” Beckman said. “We had four games last year where we were either ahead or within a touchdown at halftime and we lost all four of them. We said today, listen, we gotta finish. You saw it. Both teams were sucking wind down there. It was a great battle. Hats off to Ken-East. They hung in there the whole game and they never gave up. Just a couple plays either way that game could go either direction, but to get it right off the bat it helps these guys realize they’re doing the right things.”

Next week: Ken-East is at Will-East on Friday. Amherst travels to Starpoint.

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