CASEY — Casey-Westfield High School broke open a tight game with two third-quarter touchdowns and went on to a 27-7 victory over Cumberland in a Class 2A football playoff game here Saturday afternoon.

The Warriors, unbeaten in 11 games and the No. 1 seed in Quadrant D, led only 7-0 after the first half but got a 24-yard touchdown run from Aaron Warner on the first possession of the second half to stretch the lead to 14-0.

Then pass interception returns by Zack Briggs and Daniel Moore turned the game into a romp as Cumberland lost to C-W for the second time in three weeks.

When the two teams met on the final night of the regular season at Cumberland's Pirate Field, Casey-Westfield romped 31-7.

This time the game was much closer and tighter.

"I don't know if I have ever seen a better defense," said Cumberland Coach Todd Butler after the Pirates ended their best-season ever with an 8-3 record.

C-W will next play on the road at Westville against a team with a 9-2 record that is the No. 3 seed in the quadrant.

It is the third straight trip to the Class 2A quarterfinals for the Little Illini Conference champions and this year they've reached that level despite losing eight seniors to graduation.

"I am proud of the kids. This is a different team than last year," said Warrior Coach Keith Sinclair. "The team has really come together with the seniors and that is remarkable to me. I give credit to them. They wanted to learn and wanted to be as good as teams during their high school career."

C-W scored on its second possession of the second quarter.

Quarterback Nick Murphy hooked up with Justin Finney for 48 yards and a touchdown on a third-and-3 situation, the score coming with 3:36 left until halftime. Murphy booted the extra point for a 7-0 lead.

Casey-Westfield took the second half kickoff and put together a 67-yard scoring march that ended with Aaron Warner racing 29 yards to score his 20th touchdown of the season.

"That first score was huge," said Sinclair. "And scoring on our first drive of the second half was just as huge for us, and it put them into a pressing situation."

Casey-Westfield's final two scores came as Cumberland tried to using a passing attack to get back in the game and came during a 37-second span.

Late in the third period, Zack Briggs picked off an Ash Edmonds pass and returned it 33 yards for a score with just 20 seconds left in the stanza.

On the third play following the ensuing kickoff, Daniel Moore stepped in front of an Edmonds pass and ran it 29 yards to close out the Casey-Westfield scoring.

Cumberland's only touchdown came in the final period. Edmonds ended a long Pirate drive with a 12-yard scoring run and Nick Yocum kicked the extra point.

Warner had 116 yards on 17 carries for Casey-Westfield and Murphy hit on three of nine passes for 65 yards. Moore was in on 13 tackles for the winners.

Cumberland's all-time rushing leader, Cody Shaw, was limited to 74 yards on 23 carries. Edmonds was 11 of 25 for 84 yards.

Casey-Westfield will play a 1 p.m. game next Saturday at Westville.


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