Simply put, Naesean Howard was not going to let the West Genesee football team suffer its third consecutive defeat.
The Wildcats' junior tailback took over Friday night's game at Central Square, scoring four consecutive touchdowns to lead his side past the Red Hawks 46-28.
For the night, Howard found the end zone six times, earning 274 yards on the ground on 23 carries, an average of nearly 12 yards per carry.
All of it was necessary, too, as WG, who had suffered one-point losses to Clarence (34-33) and Fayetteville-Manlius (14-13) to open the season, was in danger of a worse fate in its Class AA-2 division opener against a Central Square side that also entered the night with an 0-2 mark.
In the first quarter alone, Howard had an eight-yard TD and dazzled Wildcat fans with a 69-yard dash to the end zone. Yet that still left WG down 14-13 as the Red Hawks' Malcolm Anderson burned the Wildcats' defense on a 76-yard TD run and Sean Spier scored from four yards out.
When Anderson again zoomed past WG's defenders on a 60-yard TD dash in the second quarter, Central Square had a 21-13 lead, but thanks to Howard, that didn't last long.
From 46 yards out, Howard converted his second TD to cut the margin to 21-20. Then, just before halftime, Howard took a pass from Dan Ginestro and didn't stop until he was in the end zone 39 yards later, giving his side a 26-21 edge at the break.
Howard's fifth TD, from 13 yards out, accounted for the only points of the third quarter, extending the margin to 32-21, and he struck one more time with an eight-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter before Garrett Waldron clinched it with a two-yard TD run.
In large part, WG won the game with its defense. Despite Anderson accumulating 274 yards on 21 carries, the Wildcats forced the Red Hawks into six turnovers, taking better care of the ball on a night where it rained most of the way.
WG gets a short week to rest before a key game next Thursday against Christian Brothers Academy (3-0) that Time Warner Cable Sports will televise, starting at 7 p.m. It’s the first encounter between these two sides since the Wildcats’ 57-35 conquest of the Brothers in the 2011 Section III Class AA final at the Carrier Dome.
The Brothers are coming off a 21-0 shutout of Cicero-North Syracuse where it held the Northstars to just one first down for the entire game. In Howard, CBA's defense will face a much stronger test.