By BRANDON SPECK / Monroe Journal
JACKSON – Brookhaven was a fumble away from a 6-0 lead in Saturday night’s MHSAA Class 5A state championship game at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.
But ball-hogging West Point (14-1) was the only team on the field to set foot in the end zone in a 21-3 victory, a win that notched the Green Wave their seventh state title and second in a row.
In Saturday’s finale to championship week, running back Lakendric Thomas and quarterback Justin Cox both went over 100 yards rushing, Thomas with 165 yards on 35 carries and a touchdown. Cox had 138 yards on 20 carries and two scores.
West Point beat Wayne County 35-14 here last season.
“We did what we wanted to do,” West Point coach Chris Chambless. “When you’re going to get somebody’s best shot, just because a play doesn’t work, we’re going to still stay with it because that’s what’s worked for us all year. There is no secret to what we do.”
The Green Wave controlled the second-half game clock and finished the game with 344 total yards, 325 of them on 61 rushes. West Point had the ball for 29 minutes, 1 second, more than 10 more minutes than Brookhaven (9-5).
On Brookhaven’s opening possession, quarterback Duwone Harris had runs of 37 and 22 yards, but the drive ended with no points. On fourth-and-4 from the 19, Harris timed a perfect pitch on an option to Travorius Showers – but as Showers headed into the end zone, he lost control of the football, the ball went out of bounds and West Point took over.
Thomas then took over the West Point drive, with six carries for 69 yards, to set up Cox’s 11-yard touchdown run.
“We just go out there and play West Point football,” Cox said. “Just keep the ball. When their offense can’t get on the field, they don’t put up points. We just put up the points and win the game.”
Brookhaven’s first drive was 86 yards. The Panthers had 54 total yards after that.
After a Brookhaven punt to the West Point 15, Cox’s 37-yard run helped set up his second score, a 3-yard run to the right pylon for a 14-0 lead 51 seconds into the second quarter. Both touchdown drives covered at least 80 yards – the first was eight plays for 80, while the second covered 85 yards in nine plays.
West Point dominated the clock in the second half.
The Green Wave drove the opening possession to the Brookhaven 5-yard line, taking 7 minutes, 14 seconds off the clock, but could not cash in.
In the fourth, the Green Wave ran even more time off the clock, converting three third downs and ending a 14-play, 77-yard drive on Thomas’ 10-yard touchdown run for a 21-3 lead.
Six minutes, 11 seconds came off the clock on that drive.