By Bryan Davis
Brookhaven quarterback Duwone Harris took matters into his own hands last Friday night, as he and the Panthers defeated then undefeated West Jones to win the South 5A championship game.
Harris accounted for 363 yards of offense between his scrambles and perhaps his most effective throwing game of the season. The swift senior will likely be Brookhaven’s top weapon in Saturday night’s state championship match against the West Point Green Wave.
If last Friday night’s North Half game between West Point and Ridgeland holds any premonitions about the game this week, the Green Wave will have a variety of weapons to choose from in their arsenal that has only grown as the season has come along.
Harris’ counterpart, Justin Cox, has been more effective in the air this season, completing over 50 percent of his passes. While the Mississippi State commitment has not had a breakout game in the air, he’s picked his spots wisely.
In Friday night’s win over the Titans, Cox threw the ball only nine times, but he completed five of those passes for 56 yards, including an early touchdown to senior Jamarius Tallie, that set the tone for the game. Meanwhile, Cox rushed the ball eight times for 124 yards and a running touchdown.
West Point has not had to utilize the throwing game as much this season, due largely to the fact that the team’s rushers have been so effective on the ground.
Cox himself has rushed for over 1,200 yards this season.
In the Ridgeland game, LaKenderic Thomas rushed 15 times for 133 yards and three touchdowns. After missing a pair of games earlier in the season, Thomas returned and picked up where he left off, rushing for over 250 yards in the season closer with Hernando.
Against Provine, in the first round of the playoffs, West Point only needed his services for the first half, in which he amassed over 130 yards in the first two quarters.
Thomas reached the 1,500 rushing yard mark in last week’s performance, and he now has 25 touchdowns on the season.
West Point has been able to offset the threat of Thomas’ rushes up the middle with sophomore running back Tez Pulliam, who has over 500 yards rushing in 2010.
Brookhaven’s main weapon will be the ground game, and aside from Harris, Travorius Showers is the second leading rusher with just over 1,000 yards on the year. Showers has not rushed for 100 yards in the playoffs so far, and he was well-contained by West Jones, who allowed him just 58 yards on 16 carries.
Prior to his 181 passing yards performance last week, Harris only threw for 127 yards in the previous three games. At the same time, he collected 485 yards on the ground.
While West Point’s arsenal is loaded with numerous capable runners and receivers, Brookhaven might have to rely on Harris alone to penetrate a defense that allowed just 20 yards of offense a week ago.