The “Grind for Nine” by the Katy Tigers was halted temporarily by a surging Westlake offense and focused quarterback Sam Ehlinger. After a perfect season that ended in a state title victory over Lake Travis, the Tigers dropped their opening game of the season against the Chaps 32-29, their first opening loss since 2008.
Westlake quarterback Ehlinger had a fantastic start, completing 18-of-29 passes with 251 yards, a passing touchdown, and rushing score. Katy quarterback Rocky Emery wasn’t asked to do much for the Katy offense besides hand off to the running backs, finishing with 6-of-12 passing for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
Westlake was responsible for 400 total yards of offense (149 ground, 251 air), creating the most production against a resilient Tigers defense in several years. The most yards Katy gave up last season was 358 yards, an indicator that the young replacements for an impressive graduating class has a lot of work to do in the 3-4 weak eagle.
The first quarter was a defensive chess match between both coaches. The Chaps sputtered three and outs, while Katy established blitzes and pressure on Ehlinger, causing quick throws. The Tigers went -14 yards on their first series, and both teams punted the ball back and forth until the end of the first. At the 8:52 mark, Westlake embarked on a five play, 45-yard drive, resulting in a play fake to hybrid receiver/tailback Connor Howard for a 34-yard touchdown. Katy tried to field the ball off the 15-yard line, but the ball deflected off the receiver, causing Westlake’s Izaiah Faz and Alex de la Fuente to pounce on the ball. A four-play 11-yard run finished with a 1-yard touchdown run by Izaiah Foz, followed by a two point conversion to Connor Howard.
Katy clawed back into the game by feeding running back beast Deondrick Glass (16 carries, 177 yards, two touchdowns), who found a crease up the left side. Pursuit from the interior was too late as he scored a 59 yard touchdown. Emery handing off to Deondrick Glass became a fixture of the offense, and brought down defensive lineman, saw numerous rushes on the perimeter, and — with 20 lbs of added muscle — surged across the line of scrimmage without challenge. Following the loss of running back Kyle Porter (4,823 yards rushing, 77 TDs) last season, Glass look very comfortable taking over the ground game for Katy, running with efficiency and power.
Katy Tigers touchdown dominated the third quarter, leading with a 19-yard touchdown pass to JC Englo and a 37-yard Glass scramble — three unanswered touchdowns by the Tigers against what appeared to be a deflating Westlake squad. Two exchanged field goals preluded an 11 play, 80-yard Westlake drive, capped by a scrambling Ehlinger rolling past tackles and firing a 17-yard touchdown dart to Andrew Boykin. The clear number one receiver finished with five catches for over 100 yards offense and a touchdown.
Emery delivered a desperate 64-yard haymaker touchdown to JC Angulo, but the fourth ended with an effective Westlake offensive line and a dominant running game that controlled the clock.