GARY | West Side has been racking up the points, going without huddles and throwing the ball all over the field since the season began.
The Cougars started Saturday's game with a slower pace and more running plays but the scoreboard operator didn't take any less of a workout, as West Side topped visiting Hammond 58-18.
"We try to set our tempo with our passing game for the first couple weeks (because) we don't even get our linemen til school starts because of the nature of our program. So, we don't have the ability to run the ball til week four, week five," coach Jason Johnson said. "It took us three years, but we figured (that) out."
Ohio State-bound Lonnie Johnson spent a large portion of his offensive plays in the backfield instead of split out wide. Five of his seven touches and 42 of his 110 total yards came as the running back.
"Now that we're able to start running the ball a little bit, we can start putting (Lonnie Johnson) at tailback," coach Johnson said. "If we put (him) at tailback in week one or week two against Hobart or Andrean, he's not going to be any good to us."
The Cougars (2-3) did most of the damage on the ground on the first drive. Berrie Wesby's 2-yard touchdown run was the first score of the game.
West Side got back to what it does best, though, when Hammond (1-4) snapped the ball over punter Marco Zendejas's head and the Cougars recovered at the Wildcats 21 yardline.
Ramone Atkins hit JonVea' Johnson on a 21-yard strike, and again on a two-point conversion to bring the score to 16-0.
Eric Schreiber plunged in from a yard out to give Hammond its first score with 10 seconds left in the first quarter. Schreiber set the touchdown up with a 34-yard pass to De'Shon Roberson. It was the first play for more than a 2-yard gain for the Wildcats.
West Side tried its second fake punt of the first half failed and gave Hammond the ball on the Cougars 40-yard line. Schreiber took his team down the field in quick order and hit Roberson for a 11-yard touchdown.
Schreiber left the game just before halftime and didn't return. Coach Eric Schreiber said his son has dealt with concussion issues for several years and may be done playing football.
"Obviously, we're not going to risk it," coach Schreiber said. "It's frustrating. He's an offensive weapon for us and without him, I'm not sure what we're going to do."
Lonnie Johnson responded to Hammond's second score with an 18-yard touchdown run on the Cougars' second play of the next drive. JonVea' Johnson made a diving catch in the back of the end zone for another score, Lonnie Johnson caught a 20-yard pass for another and West Side led 36-12 at the break.
The Cougars added a pair of scores in the third quarter and one more in the fourth.
"If we continue to take things slow and keep that method, I think we'll be alright in the region," Jason Johnson said.
Ramone Atkins completed 17 of 26 passes for 253 yards and four touchdowns for West Side. JonVea' Johnson caught seven balls for 114 yards and two scores. De'Shon Roberson had 128 total yards and two touchdowns for Hammond.