After picking up a first down on the second play of the third quarter, Westfield running back Tyler Thrasher-Walker quickly rose to his feet and removed his mouthpiece. The generally soft-spoken senior wanted the Robinson sideline to hear him clearly.
He yelled, “This is my field, dog! This is my field!”
For much of Friday night’s 21-14 Bulldogs win over their Concorde district rival, Thrasher-Walker backed up his statement, rushing for a career-high 207 yards on 29 carries. What caused the normally calm senior leader to have such an outburst in a 6A North playoff game?
“After halftime we were walking down the hill, and I heard one of the Robinson coaches say, ‘No. 22, you’re going home,’ ” Thrasher-Walker said. “Just something about that really upset me because I worked way too hard to go home.”
The senior standout picked up 124 of his yards in the second half, and he scored all three of the Bulldogs’ touchdowns in Friday’s win. No. 9 Westfield (10-2) gained 320 rushing yards and attempted just two passes on the night, both of which fell incomplete.
Robinson (8-4) fell behind 21-7 after Thrasher-Walker’s 41-yard touchdown run with 9 minutes 25 seconds left in the third quarter. But the Rams quickly answered with Jack Rowlett’s 31-yard strike to a wide open Endi Ackerman less than three minutes later.
From there, Westfield’s defense buckled down. The Bulldogs allowed Robinson to get inside the 35-yard line twice in the fourth quarter but did not yield any points.
“We ate tonight. I’m sure you saw us doing that on the field,” Bulldogs defensive back James Gibson said, referring to the eating hand gesture the secondary often used. “We want to help out the offense as much as possible, but we have to eat for that to happen.”
Robinson running back Joe Wilson was held to 57 yards in the team’s Oct. 18 meeting — a 14-13 Westfield win — but he picked up 95 yards on the ground Friday. He also had several key tackles on defense.
Westfield will now travel to No.3 Lake Braddock (12-0) — which rolled past Yorktown, 40-7, on Friday — in next week’s region semifinals. The Bulldogs have advanced to the third round of the playoffs in each of the last three seasons but have not won a region crown during that stretch. They lost a 28-24 thriller to the Bruins in their Sept. 20 regular-season meeting.
“It’s humbling to make it there, but we know we have to come out with fire,” Gibson said. “We’ve lost this game the past two years, and I’m telling you right now, I don’t see us losing this game.”