Wasilla cashes in on turnovers to beat West 24-14

dwoody@adn.comAugust 17, 2013 

— With his name, Cash McGregor sounds like either a tough, dashing sheriff in a western or someone who wins country music awards.

In truth, he's the Wasilla senior defensive back and wide receiver who spent Saturday afternoon policing, and tuning up, the West football team.

McGregor snatched five interceptions, two of them in the end zone, and rushed for one touchdown to help spearhead the Warriors' 24-14 season-opening, nonconference victory over the Eagles at Anchorage Football Stadium.

McGregor rushed five times, all on reverses the Eagles never solved, for 59 yards and the touchdown. He caught an 18-yard pass. He returned a kickoff 25 yards. He punted four times for an average of 28.0 yards, and averaged 32.7 yards on his last three. He also returns punts, though West did not punt.

But it's not as if McGregor literally does it all.

He is not on the kickoff team.

"That's my break,'' McGregor said with a laugh.

McGregor and the Warriors hardly gave the Eagles any breathing room. Wasilla of the Railbelt Conference never trailed, generated six turnovers, used a commanding running game to control the ball for 19 minutes, 58 seconds of the 24-minute second half and got its season off to a productive start after losing its final seven games last season.

West of the Cook Inlet Conference ran just one play from scrimmage in the third quarter.

Still, the Warriors held their emotions in check largely after their victory because they remember last season. In 2012, Wasilla opened the season with a 21-14 win over Bartlett of the CIC, and never won again.

"It's wonderful for us,'' McGregor said of winning the opener. "But we learned last year not to take this too far.''

McGregor, a safety on defense, said an active pass rush by his line and tight coverage by his cornerbacks allowed him to flourish. His first two interceptions, one off West starting quarterback Sam Wedin and one off Tyrone Davis, both came in the end zone to snuff Eagles drives.

"They were forced out of the pocket and had to throw off-balance, and that gave me opportunities,'' McGregor said.

His added three second-half picks, when West trailed and went pass-heavy, to give him five for the afternoon, three more than he had in any previous game in his career.

McGregor's fourth interception was particularly stunning -- he ranged far to his left, leaped against West receiver Leroy Elliott on the sideline and came down with the ball.

"After seeing his first two interceptions -- but to have five?'' said Wasilla's Mitchell Rilatos. "Skill? Luck? I'm not even sure what to call that.''

Rilatos did his part. He rushed 24 times for 154 yards and was especially effective in the second half, when he parlayed 17 carries into 132 yards and two touchdowns.

McGregor said Wasilla's offensive line deserved credit in the third and fourth quarters.

"They really carried us in the second half, and that's big,'' he said.

Wasilla opened the scoring in the first quarter on Elijah Hall's 40-yard field goal.

West quarterback Wedin, a junior who is less than three weeks removed from an appendectomy, showed flashes, particularly in hooking up with Elliott, who not only caught six passes for 90 yards but also returned a kickoff 91 yards for a third-quarter touchdown.

Wedin completed 15 of 31 passes for 161 yards and threw a 2-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown to Davis. He was also intercepted four times.

The Eagles, who have qualified for the playoffs in all four of coach Tim Davis' previous seasons, were stymied by their turnovers and Wasilla's ball control in the second half.

"Wasilla played a helluva game in the second half,'' Davis said. "Their ball control was solid. What did we run, one play from scrimmage in the third quarter? If that happens, we're in trouble.

"We'll have to find ways to get the (opponents') offense off the field. They played well and we played poorly, and they beat us.''

Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.

Wasilla 3 0 14 7 -- 24

West 0 0 7 7 -- 14

First Quarter

Wasilla -- FG 40 Hall, 7:57.

Third Quarter

Colony -- Rilatos 11 run (O'Laughlin kick), 7:11.

West -- Elliott 91 kickoff return (Troxed kick), 6:54.

Colony -- McGregor 6 run (O'Laughlin kick), :35.

Fourth Quarter

Colony -- Rilatos 27 run (O'Laughlin kick), 9:44.

West -- Davis 2 pass from Wedin (Troxel kick), 6:55

Wasilla West

First downs 14 13

Rushes-yards 46-184 25-96

Passing yards 81 161

Return yards 35 97

Passes 5-12-1 15-32-5

Punts 4-28.0 0-0.0

Fumbles-lost 1-0 4-1

Penalties-yards 4-25 4-30


RUSHING -- Wasilla: Rilatos 24-154, McGregor 5-59, Klein 1-0, Uti 1-(-2), Thomas 8-(-4), Williams 8-(-23). West: Faualo 10-52, Faamasino 8-41, Seui 1-6, Wedin 5-2, Davis 1-(-5).

PASSING -- Wasilla: Williams 5-12-1--81. West: Wedin 15-31-4--161, Davis 0-1-0--0.

RECEIVING -- Wasilla: Dedrick 2-35, McGregor 1-18, Rilatos 1-18, Thomas 1-10. West: Elliott 6-90, Davis 4-10, Rayford 3-43, Cordero 2-18.


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