By Brandon Walker
Daily Times Leader
It took West Point’s football team nearly three hours to get to Indianola for Friday night’s district opener against Gentry.
It took the West Point defense less than three minutes to take control of the game.
West Point forced Gentry to lose 13 yards on its first offensive possession and then tackled GHS punter Rufus Warren at his own 15-yard line, giving the Wave offense great field position and setting in motion a dominant performance in a 34-8 win.
The Green Wave defense didn’t allow a first down until nine minutes into the third quarter, and stifled the homestanding Rams to a total of minus-11 total offensive yards in the first half.
“They played well,” remarked West Point head coach Chris Chambless. “You like to come out and set the tone defensively, and that’s what we were able to do tonight.”
West Point’s offense was just as good, posting 210 first half yards and four touchdowns on the way to taking a 31-0 halftime lead.
Senior tailback LaKenderic Thomas scored from 2 yards out to put the Wave on the board, just moments after the Green Wave defense tackled Warren at the Genry 15. After senior Kwame Williams booted the PAT, West Point held a 7-0 lead with eight minutes, eight second to go in the opening quarter. The lead would stand at 10-0 after one quarter thanks to a 26-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Eric Lemus, his first of two on the night.
Leading 10-0 after one quarter, West Point wasted little time in putting the game away, exploding for 21 second-quarter points to take the commanding 31-0 lead.
Thomas stretched the lead to 16-0 with his second scoring run of the night, this one a 15-yard burst straight up the middle behind West Point center LeDerrius Taylor to cap a 2-play, 34-yard drive.
Five minutes later, senior quarterback Justin Cox got into the act for West Point, hooking up with junior wideout Will Harrell on a 19-yard scoring toss. Cox would find senior Jamarius Tallie on the 2-point conversion pass to give West Point a 24-0 lead with just over four minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Cox went solo on West Point’s final score of the first half. After the Green Wave started the drive at its own 34 with 1 minute, 51 seconds to go in the half, Cox engineered a 6-play scoring drive that culminated in his brilliant 35-yard touchdown run. On the play, Cox dropped back and rolled to his left to pass. Finding nothing, he began to improvise, taking off in the direction of the Gentry sideline before reversing his field and crossing through most of the Gentry defense, breaking two tackles along the way before jogging into the end zone near the West Point sideline.
“That was a great play by a great player,” said Chambless. “He’s the kind of player that can do special things with the football in his hands.”
Lemus kicked the extra point with 31 seconds to go in the half to give West Point the 31-0 lead.
In the second half, West Point continued to march the ball on offense and stifle Gentry on defense. Lemus scored the final points of the night for the Wave on a 20-yard field, which capped a clock-eating, 12-play drive to open the second half.
West Point’s first-string defense exited the game on the second play of the fourth quarter. At that point, Gentry had one yard of total offense.
Senior tailback Jamarcus Campbell would rip off a 59-yard scoring run three plays later to give Gentry its only score of the night.
On the night, West Point collected 354 yards of offense, while limiting Gentry to 95, including none through the air.
With the win, West Point improves to 4-1 overall and 1-0 in Division 1-5A play, which gives the Wave a leg up in the division race with two critical league games upcoming. New Hope visits West Point Friday night while Oxford looms the following week.
“I told our guys after the game that it’s only gong to get tougher from here,” said Chambless. “It’s that time of year where we need to take it up another notch, and I thought we did that tonight. Now, we need to keep rolling as these games get bigger and bigger.”