By Paul Jones/Special to the Journal
COLUMBUS – When making out the 2011 schedule, West Point head coach Chris Chambless wanted to test his young team early and often before starting region play.
For the second straight week, Chambless hopes his team learned more lessons from a loss to a Class 6A team. The Green Wave fell at Columbus 35-27 in overtime despite making a late rally in the final seconds to force the extra session.
“That’s what I wanted to do with this young team,” said Chambless. “We wanted a tough schedule and play against good opponents. Our confidence level will not get beat down and they will stay up. If we are gonna make mistakes I would rather make them against a good team.”
Columbus rallied from a late 20-19 deficit and took the lead 27-20 on Damian Baker’s two-yard touchdown run and two-point run with 2:35 left in the game. But the Green Wave quickly responded and converted a trio of fourth-down conversions on their last drive in regulation.
West Point quarterback Dequinton Spraggins scored from seven yards out to help his team tie the game at 27-27 and send it to overtime.
But in overtime Baker scored his third touchdown of the night and West Point was denied on its drive. Baker finished with 140 yards rushing on the night and the three scores.
‘Big for our team’
“It was big for our team,” said Columbus head coach Tony Stanford. “We talked all week that West Point thought they were more physical than us. So we had to hit them in the mouth and that’s what we preached all week. I felt like our kids hit them in the mouth all night and that’s all I asked of them.”
West Point got 118 yards rushing and one score from junior tailback Tez Lane. Sophomore tailback Aeris Williams added 71 yards and another score.
But it was not enough to help the Green Wave secure the win.
“We expected no less and knew it would be a hard-fought battle,” said Chambless. “In the end it wasn’t our game but I was proud of the way the kids played their hearts out.
“We had a lot of mistakes and we will get to work on that. We don’t have to change things up, we just have to fix them.”