By David Klein

The West Rebels shook off an inconsistent first half on offense and relied on their defense Friday night at Fulton to beat the Falcons 31-14 in a nonconference game. The state’s #1 ranked 5A team improved their record to 4-0 while the Fulton Falcons fell to 2-2. West quarterback Carson Jessie threw for two touchdowns and 161 yards in the victory.

Fulton struggled in the first quarter to get any offense going. The Falcons repeatedly started drives in their own territory and made special teams errors, including a botched fake punt and a 2-yard punt from their own 7-yard line.

Despite those Falcon miscues and great field position, West was only able to manage 10 points in the first quarter. Jessie threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Stokes John and kicker Tyson Siebe kicked a 28-yard field goal.

“We should have been up 14-0,” Jessie said. “It’s big, but next week we got a region game,” he added.

Jessie would add a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jaqurius Wrenn to begin the second quarter and put the Rebels up 17-0. It appeared the Rebels would start to walk away with the game, but the Rebels got too greedy. West went for an onside kick following the touchdown pass, but Will Sims caught the onside kick for Fulton and streaked down the sideline to give Fulton the ball in Rebel territory for the first time.

Fulton took advantage of a personal foul facemask to get a 1st-and-goal at the West 3-yard line. On second-and-goal, Falcon running back Daveon Shenault ran for a 2-yard touchdown to put the Falcons on the board and cut the Rebels’ lead to 17-7.

The Falcon momentum was short-lived as West running back Devin Jamison ran for a 2-yard touchdown run with 50 seconds left in the first half to put West up 24-7.

“It felt like we left a lot of points out there in the first half offensively,” West head coach Lamar Brown said.

In the second half, Fulton drew within two scores when offensive lineman Landon Holbrook fell on quarterback Raysean Jackson’s fumble in the end zone. The touchdown cut West’s lead to 24-14 with 32 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Falcons had a chance to draw closer following a West fumble, but the Falcons could not convert a 4th-and-5 at the Rebels’ 41-yard line. West chewed nearly six minutes of clock and on 2nd-and-goal at the Falcon 1-yard line, Braden Latham ran for a touchdown for the final scoring of the night and put the game out of reach 31-14.

“They’re a good football team,” Fulton head coach Rob Black said.

“We made so many mistakes.  We put ourselves in so many bad situations tonight. We’ve got to clean things up and get better before next Thursday. Penalties and turnovers and things like that put us in a tough situation.

“We just got to get it cleaned up.”

Fulton managed just 198 yards of total offense and only 3.2 yards per play on 61 plays while turning the ball over three times and committing seven penalties.

“Defensively, we challenged them all week to get better,” Brown said of his defense.

“Those guys have worked their butts off. I was really proud to see that improvement tonight. We knew it was going to be a fight when we came in here. They’re a well-coached team and we found a way again.”

West hosts Region 2-5A conference foe Sevier County on Friday while Fulton plays a Region 2-4A district game at Gibbs on Rivalry Thursday at 7 p.m.