Friday night saw an incredibly hard-fought loss for West Point. In what was an almost entirely defensive game against Noxubee County, West Point struggled for every inch of the field gain on offense and dug in deep to keep as much of the field as possible on defense.
The first quarter saw almost no real action. Each team seemed only to be able to play four downs before having to punt the ball away. Near the end of the first quarter, however, one stand-out play involved West Point defensive lineman Ed Brown (#56) breaking through the line of scrimage during Noxubee’s last possession of the quarter to sack Noxubee quarterback D. Ballard for a severe twelve-yard loss from which Noxubee couldn’t recover.
The first quarter ended with no score for either team.
The second quarter began more or less like the first, with the punters for each team gaining the most yardage. During this quarter, it became evident that whomever would put points on the board first would have the easier time during the game.
Noxubee, it just so happened, was able to finally get the ball into the end zone on the only breakaway of the night with 1:34 left in the half. An attempt was made for a two-point conversion, but it was no good. This left the score 6-0, Noxubee, as the clock ran out in the half.
This would be the only touchdown, and indeed the only points, scored Friday night.
During the third quarter, each team basically only had one possession each. In the last few seconds, the Green Wave was able to make one play before having to change direction on the field.
The fourth quarter of play was a nail-biter from start to finish. A West Point fumble with 4:37 left to play in the game lead to a Noxubee recovery, but after four plays they were forced to punt away.
With 1:41 left on the clock, West Point made a gallant drive down the field. A critical pass by quarterback Tez Lane (#28) to Aeris Williams (#22) got the Green Wave from the 40-yard line to the 20 with less than a minute to go. Lane and Williams made a tremendous effort to get the ball down to the four-yard line, but due to an offsides call they were forced back to the nine with only 9.6 seconds left on the clock. Lane’s last attempt to get into the end zone resulted in a fumble by the time the clock ran out.
Both teams played their hearts out, but it was painfully evident that neither team got a fair shake when it came to the officials. Never has there been such a blatant disregard for the action of the game when it came to the referees. One line judge in particular was far more concerned with how close to the West Point team getting too close to the sidelines than what was actually happening on the field.
One cannot help but wonder what the outcome of the game might have been if the line judge in question had managed to actually see the blown holding calls that were so flagrant, including an unmistakable mule collar against Tez Lane in the first quarter, as well as a severe man-handling of the West Point QB near the end of the half. Offsides calls and false starts were missed that every single person in the stadium could see.
Despite the officiating, Coach Chambless showed tremendous pride in his team during the night. Roger Thomas (#24) was able to make a few great plays, gaining yardage for the West Point, and Tyler Logan (#5) and Anthony Johnson (#10) teamed up on a fantastic sack of the Noxubee quarterback near the end of the third quarter.
“Whether you win or lose, you learn,” Coach Chambless said to his boys as the end of the game.
“Our team gave a great effort,” Chambless continued in a statement to reporters. “My hat’s off to Noxubee County. We knew it was going to be a battle; that’s the way it always is.”
“You know, it’s NOT back to the drawing board for us, that’s not what it’s about. It’s back to working hard, practicing hard for next week. You learn from defeats just like you do from a win.”
It was a game little seen in high school football. Two very good defenses were matched equally with two good offenses, and a flip of the coin determined the winner. West Point looks forward to playing Lake Cormorant next Friday at 7:30pm in Hamblin Stadium.