OLIVE BRANCH - Three or four plays Friday night could have made all the difference.
For Center Hill, they made plays at the right time, converting on a trio of third downs late in the ball game and capped off a 73-yard drive with a 22-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jacob Marsh to upset West Point 30-29.
Dequinten Spraggins’ quarterback keeper with 14 seconds left to play fell just shy of the first down on the Green Wave’s final effort.
The loss snaps a 20-game winning streak for the Green Wave (5-4) dating back to 2008 against district opponents and puts West Point at 4-1, tied atop the region with Center Hill.
The Green Wave would have to win out to try and get at least a share of the district title.
“Sometimes you learn lessons and you hate to learn them the hard way,” head coach Chris Chambless said after the game. “We knew Center Hill was a good football team. Thy can play. Coming up here, it’s a hard place to play. We played hard, made a few mistakes and just didn’t come out on top.”
Trailing by two points heading into the fourth quarter, the Green Wave found a spark they needed when Spraggins picked off Marsh at the 15-yard line.
Two plays later and the Green Wave had thought they had their first lead
of the game when Tez Lane broke through a pile at the line of scrimmage and sprinted 76-yards for the score. The play was called back due to a block in the back which put them at the 37-yard line and that’s when West Point’s ground and pound offense took over. Ten plays, 63 yards and Spraggins finished what he started with an eight-yard touchdown that fooled everybody on a play-action keeper. A two-point conversion made it 29-23.
Coming into the ball game, West Point was firmly in the drivers seat after four consecutive district wins, and Center Hill (5-4), who has slowly started to get a reputation as a solid team in 5A, had West Point on the ropes early in the ball game.
Center Hill took the opening kick-off and marched it 77-yards for the score. Richard Hampton, who finished with 82-yards in the first half had seven carries for 40-yards including a seven yard touchdown run.
After holding the Green Wave to a three and out, the Mustangs made it a two possession game with a one-yard touchdown run by Curderion Hampton, 13-0 Center Hill with 3:26 in the first quarter.
West Point needed just three plays to find themselves on the scoreboard on their next drive. Lane’s 48-yard sprint down the Green Wave sideline set up a four-yard touchdown for Aries Williams, 13-7 Center Hill.
Sticking with Richard Hampton, Center Hill scored on their third consecutive drive as he made it 20-7 with a 10-yard score early in the second quarter.
The two teams exchanged possessions before the Green Wave scored again late in the second on a three-yard run by Lane.
The Mustangs weren’t finished just yet, a pass interference call put them at their own 34-yard line and after a 14-yard loss, Marsh managed to put his team in field goal range and Boone Frederick’s 32-yard attempt was good with seconds left to play in the first half, 23-14.
Chambless said he made a few adjustments in the locker room at the half. That seemed to light a fire under the Green Wave as Lane returned the kick-off 69-yards to set up a 17-yard touchdown run by Spraggins to cut the lead 23-21.
“It’s all about blocking and tackling and not blowing any coverages,” he said. “We came out in the second half and did that, just there in the end it slipped a little bit.”
West Point rushed for 238 total yards led by Lane with 123 on the night. He also finished with 192 all-purpose yards.
Williams topped out at 70 and a touchdown.
With just two games left to play on the district slate, West Point can’t afford to take another loss. Chambless knows how hard his team works week in and week out, after all, he chose them.
“I don’t hang my head,” he said. ‘They play hard for us and hard for our community. Everyone needs to get behind them and support them. We’re still learning and still growing. We’re going to finish the season strong and come back next week and play hard.”
The Green Wave travel to Oxford, who were nearly defeated by Saltillo 35-28 in overtime, before closing out the regular season against New Hope. Oxford is 3-2 while the Tojans are 2-3 heading to next week.View more articles in: