After his stars glowed Friday night in a 27-8 victory over Bartlett, West football coach Tim Davis considered the journey of his injury-ravaged team, which lost its first two games but has bounced back to reel off three straight Cook Inlet Conference wins.
As the Eagles serenaded their fans at Anchorage Football Stadium with the school fight song after the game, Davis was mindful that their remaining schedule is demanding. Next up is Dimond, which is tied with West and Service for second place in the conference. After that, the Eagles play Service and then close the regular season against the current league leader and defending large-school state champion in top-ranked South.
“We’ve still got a long way to go, and we’re still banged up,’’ Davis said. “And we can’t sing very well.’’
The Eagles have persevered by leaning on their top players. Friday, Leroy Elliot caught four passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns, rushed for one touchdown and picked off a pass deep in his own territory. Lui Faamasino parlayed 23 hard carries into 102 yards and a touchdown. And quarterback Tyrone Davis, who took over when Sam Wedin suffered a knee injury early in the season, proved efficient and lethal, completing 9 of 14 slings for 155 yards and those two scores to Elliot.
“You try to get the ball in the hands of your best kids and let them be special,’’ Tim Davis said.
Those offensive stalwarts, and a defense that permitted Bartlett just one touchdown even as the Golden Bears five times positioned themselves inside the West 30, helped the Eagles improve to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the CIC.
Bartlett, meanwhile, played without quarterback Zyrelle Jones, who was out injured, and switched from its usual spread offense to the wing-T it employed before the arrival of second-year coach Daniel Esparza. The Golden Bears plunged to 0-5 overall and 0-4 in conference, and they have lost 17 consecutive games dating back to early September 2011.
After a scoreless first quarter, West earned some separation when Elliot subbed in at quarterback and scored on a 1-yard sneak that capped a 54-yard drive that included a 14-yard run by Jordan Murchinson, an 18-yard hookup between Tyrone Davis and Elliot, and a 13-yard run by Faamasino.
Two possessions later, still leading 7-0, West faced third-and-17 at its own 55.
“I don’t have a play for third-and-17,’’ Tim Davis said. “I have Leroy Elliot.’’
Elliot collected a pass from Tyrone Davis on a short curl route, shook past one defender, beat another along the sideline and tight-roped his way to a 55-yard touchdown that furnished a 14-0 lead. Elliot said his coach refers to bursting upfield as “Welkering’’ in tribute to NFL receiver Wes Welker.
“I thought I was out of bounds, but I just kept running,’’ Elliot said.
Bartlett, though, did not submit easily.
Tala Sappa downed the West punter in the end zone early in the third quarter, and receiver-turned-quarterback Dustyn Belgarde shortly after that hit C.J. Hoffman with a lovely 25-yard strike in the left corner of the end zone to slash West’s lead to 14-8.
West responded quickly — and decisively. The Eagles marched 54 yards on just three plays, with Faamasino scoring on a 7-yard run. Tyrone Davis’ 32-yard scamper keyed the sequence, which was aided by a Bartlett penalty.
The Eagles secured victory in the fourth quarter, when Elliot’s interception at his own 12, and subsequent 16-yard return, derailed Bartlett. West then marched 72 yards on 10 plays, and the Tyrone Davis-Elliot connection clicked again.
Tyrone Davis rolled right, pump-faked, then hit Elliot with a 30-yard strike in the end zone.
On a night when the Eagles were missing injured running back Jake Faualo, Elliot said he and his teammates just soldiered on.
“We knew we had injuries and it would slow us, but it never held us back,’’ Elliot said.
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Bartlett \t0 \t0 \t8 \t0 -- 8
West \t0 \t14 \t6 \t7 -- 27
West -- Elliot 1 run (Ortland kick), 10:20.
West -- Elliot 55 pass from Davis (Ortland kick), 3:34.
Bartlett -- Safety, Sappa tackled punter in end zone, 4:21.
Bartlett -- Hoffman 25 pass from Belgarde (run failed), 2:12.
West -- Faamasino 7 run (run failed), 1:10
West -- Eliot 30 pass from Davis (Ortland kick), 6:31.
First downs 13 15
Rushes-yards 50-174 46-156
Passing yards 35 155
Return yards 94 39
Passes 2-14-2 9-14-0
Punts 4-31.5 3-27.7
Fumbles-lost 5-2 5-1
Penalties-yards 10-84 14-133
RUSHING -- Bartlett: Honore 15-51, Irving 9-48, Hoffman 3-37, Kenney 9-33, Pace-Alexander 6-24, Falaniko 1-1, Sappa 1-(-6), Belgarde 6-(-13). West: Faamasino 23-102, Murchison 8-37, Tuilimu 3-20, Davis 8-17, Elliot 2-0, Team 2-(-20).
PASSING -- Bartlett: Belgarde 2-14-2--35. West: Davis 9-14-0--155.
RECEIVING -- Bartlett: Hoffman 2-35. West: Davis 4-119, Rayford 3-31, Bell 1-11, Faamasino 1-(-5).
By DOYLE WOODY