It was the second round of the 5-A playoffs Friday night, and a step closer for eight teams in Mississippi to make it to Jackson. West Point and Ridgeland laid it all on the line to get to the North State title game on the field at Hamblin Stadium on the campus of West Point High School.
The Green Wave from the beginning had full control of the game on both sides of the ball. West Point was hitting on all cylinders and went on to victory beating the Ridgeland Titans, 56-21.
“Our kids played hard on both sides of the ball,” commented Head Coach Chris Chambless about his team as a whole, “We had a lot of focus this week and need it again next week.”
The offense looked almost unstoppable Friday night against the Titans. Tez Lane was spectacular as he carried the ball 9 times accumulating 167 yards on the ground along with four touchdowns. Aeris Williams carried the ball well getting 14 carries for 74 yards, but his major highlight came from a 99-yard kick-off return that opened the second-half. Along with the ground game, the Wave made massive gains throwing the ball when Lane hit Peair Howard for a 45 yard completion and T.J. Howard for a 66 yard touchdown pass. The West Point offense looks focused and will need to continue this momentum in the playoffs.
“We can put up some points,” said Coach Chambless about his offense, “the guys know the game plan and stick to our bread and butter.”
Along with the outstanding offensive performance, West Point’s defense proved again they can be one of the toughest defenses in the state. Led by the likes of Ed Brown (4 sacks) and Freddie Reed on the defensive line, the Wave hounded the Titans the whole game. Dvanta Randle led the secondary of West Point delivering hard blows to the Ridgeland receiving corp. Ridgeland was only able to get six first downs all night, and found it hard to move the ball forward at times.
“Their [Ridgeland’s] offense gets you into space,” stated Coach Chambless, “as a defense we had to play responsible defense, which we did.”
Ridgeland could not get anything started on their first drive going three and out after an Ed Brown sack at the Titan 4 yard line on third down. West Point took over the ball after Ridgeland’s punt in good field position at the Titan’s 49 yard line. It took just under three minutes and five plays for the Wave to find the end zone when Lane ran 14 yards for the score. Eric Lemus tacked on his first of eight successful PATs, and West Point led 7-0 at the 7:04 mark in the first. Once again the Titan’s offense could not get much going as they had another three and out. The Wave started their drive at midfield with 5:49 on the clock. And West Point drove strong down the field again and found the end zone when Williams found the hole and ran for 13 yards and the touchdown. At the 2:42 mark in the first quarter, West Point led over Ridgeland 14-0. But Ridgeland finally found an answer when Titan quarterback Parker Loham took the read option, going 50 yards for a Titan touchdown. West Point still had control of the game at the end of the first, ahead 14-7.
The Titans were steamrolled in the second quarter with three touchdowns by the Wave. Another Lane 14 yard run with 7:35 resulted in a touchdown for the Green Wave bringing the score to 21-7. Lane, again, used his speed to break away from defenders going 58 yards for the West Point touchdown. West Point was sitting in the driver’s seat leading, 28-7 with 1:58 in the first half. Coach Chambless and his staff used their timeouts well allowing the West Point offense one last possession before the end of the half. It only took one play though, Lane found a wide-open Minor who caught and ran the ball in for a 66 yard touchdown pass. The Wave extended their lead to 35-7 at the half.
And from the opening kick-off of the second half, West Point’s Williams struck like lightning, going 99 yards for a touchdown on the return. The score now read in favor of the Wave 42-7. The third quarter ended without another score. The fourth quarter though lit up the scoreboard. Ridgeland’s Gary Adams carried the ball for a 14 yard touchdown. The Titan touchdown was answered by Lane’s final score, an elusive 50 yard run at the 8:22 mark bringing the score to 49-14. Ridgeland scored their final touchdown of the night when Loham found Xavier Marion for a 61 yard touchdown pass. But West Point answered again when Josh Ewing ran in from 22 yards out finalizing the scoring on the night. West Point was victorious over Ridgeland winning 56-21.
This game was the final home game for the Green Wave and the Senior class at Hamblin Stadium. West Point will hit the road next week for the North State Championship, taking on their hated rival Starkville. The Yellow Jackets ended West Point’s hopes of the 5-A championship three-peat last year in the playoffs, and will hope to do so again this year. “We respect Starkville so much,” said Coach Chambless about the Yellow Jackets, “regular season is out the window now, postseason is all that matters and we know we are going to have to play well.”