It was no easy path for the Yorktown Patriots finishing second in the region tournament.
After a five-point first-round victory, third-seeded Yorktown (11-2) knocked off the host and second-seed Madison Warhawks, 25-10, in the semifinals. Then Nov. 30, Yorktown fell to the juggernaut, top seed, host and undefeated Westfield Bulldogs, 35-7, in the 6D North Region Tournament high-school football title game.
The region crown for 13-0 Westfield was its fifth in a row (seventh overall) and gives the Bulldogs a 17-game region playoff winning streak. The loss ended Yorktown's nine-game winning streak. In team history, the Patriots have won two region crowns and now have four runner-up finishes.
"We had a nice season, but we wanted to play them closer than 35-7," Yorktown coach Bruce Hanson said of his Liberty District championship team.
Yorktown took a 7-0 lead when they received the opening kickoff and put together a 14-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capped by a six-yard scoring pass from Grant Wilson to Evan Rotker, then Jonah Garufi converted with 3:36 left in the first quarter.
The Patriots converted a fourth down and two third downs on that drive.
Westfield answered with scoring drives on its first two possessions on scoring passes of 31 and 25 yards from Noah Kim, who is 41-1 as a starter in his career for the Bulldogs.
"We worked so hard for that first touchdown, then we gave up those long passes for touchdowns and got behind. We hadn't done that all season," Hanson said. "We thought we had a chance to get a stop and Grant could put together another drive for a score."
Instead, Westfield upped the lead to 21-7 on a 14-yard Kim scoring pass and a third extra point, as the first half ended at the score.
Yorktown recovered the second half kickoff at the Westfield 24-yard line but did not convert the recovering into points. The Patriots moved to the 11 where a Garufi fourth-down field goal was blocked.
"Scoring there could have got us right back in it," Hanson said.
Wilson hurt his right throwing shoulder when sacked on third down of that drive and did not return, further hurting the Patriots' chances to rally.
"Grant gets hurt there and that makes it really tough," Hanson said.
Wilson completed 12 of 23 passes for 114 yards and the touchdown.
Westfield added two fourth-quarter TDs on a punt return and a five-yard run. The Bulldogs gained 347 total yards and held Yorktown, which did not have a turnover, to 132, of just two rushing. The 35 points were a single-game most scored against Yorktown this fall.
"They moved the ball on us a little bit," Hanson said.
Westfield coach Kyle Simmons said Yorktown came out strong.
"They converted plays on that first drive and that had us back peddling," he said. "Chasing around their quarterback was a real bear. But I liked how we responded and didn't panic."
Max Patterson had six catches for 61 yards for Yorktown, Rotker had three receptions for 23, Brendan Rindfusz three for 21 and Seth Roberts two for 18. Ta'jaun Perry-Elem had 12 yards rushing. Wilson and backup Matthew Larsen (3 of 10 passing for 16 yards) were sacked a combined five times. James Brady had a late-game 25-yard punt return.
On defense for Yorktown, Rindfusz had an interception and a breakup, John Pius and Charlie Rowe each had two tackles for losses, with Aidan Burnside and Sam Keenan each having one tackle for a loss. Roberts recovered the second-half kickoff.
For Westfield, Kim was 9 of 12 passing for 142 yards and rushed for 37. Mikal Legall ran for 106 yards, Avery Howard had five catches for 71 yards, and Shanks Gabe rushed for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Ryan Moses had multiple tackles for losses on defense, including two sacks.
Yorktown defeated Marshall, 28-23, for its first-round win.
NOTES: Yorktown last won a region championship in 1999 . . . Two of Westfield's three region-tournament victories this season were against Arlington teams. The Bulldogs routed the Wakefield Warriors, 43-7, in the first round.