By Paul Jones/Special to the Journal
WEST POINT – Last year, West Point and Starkville played down to the final play before the outcome was decided. This time around, the Green Wave used a dominating third quarter to settle the score Friday night.
West Point used a 17-play, 80-yard drive that took 8:17 off the clock and took the wind out of the Jackets en route to a 33-12 victory. It was the first victory for the Green Wave (1-2) while Starkville fell to 2-2.
“That’s our brand of football,” said West Point coach Chris Chambless. “We want to be physical. They stopped us on some drives but we were still able to run some clock.”
Before that long drive by West Point, Starkville was in position to possibly tie the game on its initial drive of the second half. Starkville tailback Devin Mitchell appeared to be headed for a touchdown with West Point leading 20-12. But Mitchell fumbled the ball before he cross the goal line and West Point recovered in the end zone.
“The turnover down here I thought was a big determining factor,” said Starkville head coach Jamie Mitchell. “It was 20-12 and we fumble going into the end zone and I hope it was a fumble, at least.
“That was the deciding factor of the game. We made a ton of mistakes but West Point played well. They made the plays when they had to.”
That was the first of three second-half fumbles for the Jackets. The last one of the half also resulted in Green Wave points and Mario Virges’ nine-yard scoring run put the icing on the cake for West Point late in the fourth quarter.
After a rare 0-2 start – first since 2000 – Chambless said he didn’t have to remind his team about their winless start going into Friday night.
‘Won in practice’
“We won this game in practice this week,” said Chambless, whose squad lost 20-19 to Starkville last year. “We showed a lot of heart and I didn’t have to mention (the 0-2 start). With the heart and character of this team, they are going to bringing it each week.”
In that third quarter, West Point ran 20 plays while Starkville ran just seven.
West Point quarterback Dequinten Spraggins finished with 184 yards passing and one touchdown and also rushed for another 76 yards. Lane finished with 64 yards rushing and two touchdowns to help West Point total 310 yards of offense.
“We had to find their breaking point,” said Spraggins. “We found their loose spot in their defense and kept hitting the same target. We just kept running the same play the same time and they couldn’t stop us.”
West Point’s Tez Lane finished with 64 yards rushing and two TDs to help West Point total 310 yards of offense.