STARKVILLE – Starkville scored a pair of touchdowns off of two West Point turnovers Friday night, including the game winner in the fourth quarter as the Yellowjackets ended the Green Wave’s run for a third consecutive 5A title, 20-14 in the second round of the MHSAA state playoffs.
It’s the first time since 2008 West Point (8-5) won’t be playing for a state title.
The Yellowjackets will travel to Ridgeland next Friday for the North State title. Many had predicted the winner of Starkville and West Point would go on to win the 5A championship.
“The team who gets the most breaks was going to win the ball game, they got the breaks tonight and we didn’t,” head coach Chris Chambless said. “We played extremely hard and we knew it was going to be a hard fought game. We knew we couldn’t turn the ball over and we did, we knew we had to make some stops on defense and we didn’t. Overall, we played hard and I guarantee you we played well.”
The Yellowjackets (11-2) scored the go-ahead touchdown after recovering a fumble by Dequinten Spraggins, his second on the night with 7:10 to play in the fourth quarter.
Back-to-back passes by quarterback Gabe Myles for 14 and 27-yards set up a six yard touchdown run. Starkville’s extra point was wide left with plenty of time for the Green Wave to make a run down six.
On their next possession, the Green Wave hit the ground game hard and converted on a fourth-and-1 to move the chains. Two plays later, Starkville was flagged for pass interference, spotting the ball at the 30-yard line as Spraggins rolled out to find Aries Williams down the West Point sideline.
After an incomplete pass to Williams, the Green Wave were called for unsportsmanlike conduct which pushed them back to the 45-yard line.
Facing a foruth-and-25, Spraggins broke from the pocket and scrambled downfield before falling two yards shy of the first down.
West Point’s defense, which held the Yellowjackets to just 12 points in their first meeting back in September, didn’t give up a single yard forcing Starkville to punt on their first two possessions. The Green
Wave’s second drive ended when Spraggins lost the football at their own 46-yard line setting up the games’ first score.
A three-yard run by Myles gave the Yellowjackets a 7-0 lead.
West Point answered right back needing just five plays to find the find the endzone. Williams scrambled through the line and emerged with the football, he leaped over a would be tackler and tacked on 30 more yards before getting dragged down from behind at the 10.
West Point rolled the dice on fourth-and-5 as Spraggins scored on a quarterback keeper. West Point’s extra point was blocked as they trailed 7-6 with 10:19 to play in the half. Spraggins, who had over 1,000 yards rushing coming into the ball game, tallied 72 on the night.
With 6:38 to play in the half, the Green Wave looked to have run the same play four times in a row, slowly moving the ball up field.
Back-to-back flags had West Point facing 33-yards for the first down which they couldn’t convert.
Starkville made it 14-6 on their first drive of the second half when Devin Mitchell found the endzone on a reverse from five yards out.
West Point quickly answered on the next drive marching 73-yards for a 3-yards run by Tez Lane who finished with 61 on the night. Spraggins tied the ballgame with a two-point conversion with 11:12 to play in the game.
The Green Wave finished with 257-yards of offense. Spraggins was just 1-for-10 for 16-yards passing.
“The future is bright,” Chambless said. “I told them I don’t want to coach another in the state and I still don’t. That’s West Point football. We have a good football team and our kids work hard.”
It was the final game for several seniors wearing a West Point uniform, although some will get the opportunity to play in a few all-star games next month. For those coming back, including Williams and Lane, West Point will have a steady foundation of youth and experience coming back in 2012.
“We can take it to a higher level next year,” Chambless said. “We got put out in 2008 in a game we should have won. It’s sort of the same situation this year. We came back (in 2009) and had a great season, and that’s what I expect this next year. The pressure is on us now to get it done.”View more articles in: