By Brandon Walker
Daily Times Leader
Third down. Game hanging in the balance. Possibly a division title at stake.
Sounds like the perfect time for A West Point player to come up with one of the most memorable plays of the season.
That’s exactly what Will Harrell did Friday night.
Harrell, a junior wide receiver, delivered a catch for the ages late in the third quarter of West Point’s 22-20 win over Oxford Friday night, preventing a costly turnover and giving the Green Wave the opportunity to cash in with a pivotal field goal just four plays later.
With West Point facing a 3rd-and8 situation from the Oxford 47-yard-line, Wave QB Justin Cox lofted a high, floating pass down the field in the direction of Harrell and Oxford defender Justin Ivy. With the ball under-thrown and Harrell about five yards behind him, Ivy apppeared to have a clean shot at an interception, which would have given Oxford, which trailed 19-14 at the time, the ball with just under eight minutes to go in the game.
Ivy, listed at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, reached up and caught the ball, grabbing it with both hands. That’s when Harrell made his move.
Coming back to the ball, Harrell snatched the ball from Ivy’s grasp and momentum carried both to the ground. Instead of having to play defense and protect a 5-point lead, Harrell’s terrific catch gave the Wave new life, which resulted in a 33-yard field goal moments later.
Those three points would be just what West Point needed in an eventual 22-20 win.
“He made a Tyrone Prothro-type play,” said West Point head coach Chris Chambless, referring to former Alabama Crimson Tide WR Tyrone Prothro, whose diving, two-handed snare over a Southern Miss defender six years ago has long since been a staple of highlight shows and greatest play countdowns. “Will is capable of making those plays. We throw him the ball in those situations because we know he can handle it.”
For Harrell, the play was made from instinct.
“I saw that the throw was short, and I knew I had to go up and make a big play,” Harrell said. “He had his hands on it, but I just jumped up and did whatever I had to do to get the ball back. I just did my best to concentrate and go get the football.”