By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
MOORE — Bryson Lee wasn’t sure what to expect. The Westmoore junior started his first-ever game at quarterback in front of the biggest crowd he will see all year when he faced Moore in the annual Moore War rivalry Friday.
However, Lee didn’t have much to worry about. After a slow start, he ended the night with 250 yards passing to help lead the Jaguars to a convincing 37-6 victory over the Lions on Friday in front of a capacity crowd at Moore Stadium.
“I started off a little shaky at first,” Lee said. “But I picked it up. I think I grew up a little today. Getting over the jitters.”
Lee didn’t earn the starting spot until late in the preseason. He still played much of Moore War like a veteran signal caller. That included throwing a 13-yard touchdown pass to Dahu Green with 1:03 left in the contest. It was the back-breaking score that put the game away for the Jags.
Westmoore has now defeated the Lions 13 straight times in the series.
“It’s great to keep the tradition going for the fans,” Lee said. “They are out here helping us. It’s all for them.”
Westmoore was without senior wideout Lexus Lee, who was standing on the sideline with a cast on his right leg. He said he will be out of the lineup for up to six weeks.
The Jaguars had a chance to get on the scoreboard early when they took their opening possession and drove it deep into Moore territory. Lee tried to hit Kieron Hardrick in the end zone but was intercepted by Stephan Robinson.
Westmoore finally struck when Hardrick busted through the Moore defense for a 30-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter.
Hardrick wasn’t done there. On the Jags’ next possession, he caught a simple flare pass at the 30-yard line that Moore sniffed out from the start. However, Hardrick gave one defender a ferocious stiff arm, then streaked down the sideline 69 yards before being caught by Robinson at the 1. Hardrick finished the job on the next play with a plunge up the middle.
AJ Oliver got into the scoring act with a 10-yard touchdown run to give the Jags a 20-3 halftime lead.
“It was real important to get the running game going,” Hardrick said. “Once we get it going, it’s hard to stop us in the run game. But we have to get that pass game going too.”
Moore didn’t help its cause by racking up penalty flags the entire night. Even when the defense would get a stop or force a bad play, the Lions were called for penalties that would extend drives.
Westmoore took advantage of a couple of Moore penalty flags to start the third quarter. They led to another Hardrick touchdown.
Jordan Bernhardy tried to keep the Lions in the contest. The first-year quarterback broke free for large gains on the ground and started to hit his receivers in the passing game.
An apparent Bernhardy touchdown run was called back for holding. Moore ended up settling for a 33-yard field goal to cut Westmoore’s lead to 27-6.
Moore was held to 106 total yards.
“We played very good,” Westmoore’s Denver Beebe said. “Defense was flying around. That simple. Doing our job. Each tackler has a job on defense. They want to play the option game? It is easy to stop. Just do your job. Don’t get confused. Hit him and make him think twice about pitching it.”
Hardrick led all rushers with 76 yards to go along with his three touchdowns. It was the type of start to the season he wanted to see from himself and his team.
“It’s huge for me,” Hardrick said. “I love it. Going out with a bang this year. It means a lot to beat Moore. We just want to keep the tradition going. I love this team. They are all my brothers.”
Michael Kinney Follow me @eyeamtruth firstname.lastname@example.org