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Ball control makes West the best in Kenmore Blue Devils pound out victory over Bulldogs

Allow Kenmore West to take a lead and possess the football in the late going and you can pretty much start thinking about the next game.

Long-time rival Kenmore East found that out the hard way Saturday afternoon before an overflow crowd of about 1,100 at Sparky Adams Field.

With their punishing running game, the Blue Devils efficiently managed the second half of their 27-19 nonleague win over the Bulldogs in the 50th edition of this Kenmore rivalry.

"It's all about executing and when we play as a team we get the job done," said West senior quarterback Damour Bailey, who carried 26 times for 191 yards and two touchdowns as the Blue Devils assumed a 32-16-2 lead in the series. "From the looks of it at the end, I think we were the dominant team."

After bolting to a 21-12 lead at intermission, the playoff-bound Blue Devils (5-2) ran 27 plays in the second half and all of them were runs. They finished with 355 rushing yards and a 381-243 edge in total offense.

"When they have a couple-point lead and it's the fourth quarter, that running game of theirs is even tougher to stop," said Bulldogs coach Matt Chimera, whose team is 1-6. "There was a lot of adjusting going on with [West's] running between the tackles down there. They were running traps in the 'A' gap and we shut that down, so then they started running dives in the 'B' gap. A lot of that was going on. They run the ball really well."

Even without their starting quarterback, the Bulldogs were back in it when Mike Doherty scored on a 15-yard run with 9:48 left in the third quarter to trim West's lead to 21-19.

Junior Kevin Wagner was the QB after senior Jon Anthony Wiltberger, who has been a three-year starter, was suspended for violating school rules. Wagner's 11-yard scamper was a key play on East's last scoring drive.

The Bulldogs had a chance to take the lead when they drove from their own 43 to the West 31, but Tim Hersey picked off Wagner's pass for Victor Cacho -- East's only turnover.

"We just manned up and I played it well," said Hersey, who carried 18 times for 100 yards. "The ball was a little dead, I think because of some good penetration by our line. It felt like they had just had the wind knocked out of them. We drove down and scored again, and that was the story."

Said Bailey, who completed 3 of 4 passes for 26 yards and directed scoring drives of 63, 58, 80 and 89 yards in an error-free performance: "It was a great play and we needed it. We were kind of down a little bit and we knew we had to stop them somehow. We got the ball back and scored, then kept the clocking running to get this victory."

West sealed it with a workmanlike, nine-play march that started from its own 11, culminated by Warren Hemphill's 17-yard run -- one play after Hersey had rambled 31 yards up the middle, breaking tackle attempts.

"On that last possession our linemen really worked hard," said Hemphill, who added 64 yards on 12 rushes. "In the second half they really picked it up. But [Hersey's interception] was very big. It crushed their momentum."

East saw the ball just once in the fourth quarter and picked up a first down when Doherty scooted 11 yards from the West 35, part of his 110-yard afternoon that included a nifty 52-yard scoring jaunt in the first quarter after he'd taken a pitch left from Wagner.

But a pair of incompletions by Wagner, who went 6 of 13 for 56 yards, forced a Doherty punt and West piled on the final three of their 20 first downs to burn the clock and gain some payback for last season's 20-8 loss to the Bulldogs at Crosby Field.

"I wish we could have that game back from last year," Hersey said. "But this is like icing on the cake."

Up next for West is a home Class AA playoff game against Jamestown.

"They're a tough team," said Chimera, whose team will host Lake Shore in a Class A consolation bowl. "Bailey is tough to stop and then when you get him stopped, Hersey is tough. We knew we were going to have trouble stopping them and we did. But we thought maybe we could come out one score ahead and we didn't."

e-mail: tborrelli@buffnews.com

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