OXFORD – West Point unleashed its powerful one-two rushing punch of Lekenderic Thomas and Justin Cox on Oxford in Friday’s Class 5A state quarterfinals.
Thomas, a tailback, rambled for 165 yards and scored a clinching touchdown on a 1-yard run late in the fourth quarter of the Green Wave’s 27-12 victory at the Chargers’ Bobby Holcomb Field.
Cox, the quarterback, added 157 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns to give the defending state champions a 21-0 lead through three quarters.
“We wanted to knock them off the ball and play physical,” West Point coach Chris Chambless said. “We wanted to wear them down … play West Point football.
“I thought we executed our game plan pretty well.”
This was the second meeting this season between the two teams. The Green Wave (12-1) defeated Oxford 22-20 Oct. 8 in West Point when the Chargers failed on a 2-point conversion try with under two minutes remaining.
West Point advances to next week’s state semifinals against Ridgeland, a 34-24 winner over New Hope.
West Point’s defense kept Chargers quarterback Guy Cameron Billups in check most of the night. The senior, who had passed for 2,788 yards and 32 touchdowns this season, completed 10 of 31 for 146 yards and one TD.
“We just didn’t execute like we needed to,” Billups said. “West Point’s a good football team.”
Billups’ 22-yard strike to Deshaun McNeal with 5 minutes, 35 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter cut West Point’s lead to 21-12. However, the Chargers missed on a 2-point conversion attempt.
Oxford (9-4) scored earlier in the fourth quarter on Lamont Dean’s 26-yard run.
West Point recovered an onsides kick attempt, then chewed up yardage and the clock before Lee’s score.
Cox gave the Green Wave a 7-0 lead with 9:48 remaining in the second quarter when he scored on a 14-yard dash around right end.
However, the Green Wave quarterback suffered two interceptions in the first half, both by Oxford’s Tre Carothers. One was at the Chargers’ 9-yard line and the other at the Oxford 29.
Oxford reached the West Point 21 late in the second quarter, but the drive stalled on downs.
Cox scored on runs of 4 and 7 yards in the third quarter.
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal