By Paul Jones/Special to the Journal
WEST POINT – No Michael Carr? No Curtis Virges?
No problem for West Point on Friday night in the season opener against Shannon.
The defending Class 5A state champions rolled to a 39-14 decision over the visiting Red Raiders, and avenged its lone loss from 2009.
Despite losing key contributors from last year in Carr and Virges – both are now at Mississippi State – West Point managed to capture its 15th straight win and did so with surprising ease.
Naturally, last year’s loss was still fresh on West Point’s minds, and served as good motivation.
That “definitely played a part,” said West Point head coach Chris Chambless. “We got off to a great start and they came ready. But we got a bit sloppy in the second half, and we’ll have to work to correct those mistakes.
“But overall, it was a good win against a good team.”
West Point wasted little time on a hot and humid evening, rolling to a 33-0 halftime advantage. Senior tailback Jacoby Lee (6 yards) and senior quarterback Justin Cox (40) ran for the home team’s first two touchdowns. Speedy sophomore Tez Pulliam (25, 8) scored twice in the second quarter to begin the domination.
Cox, a Mississippi State commit, finished with 94 yards rushing and had 77 yards passing. Pulliam collected 108 yards rushing to go with the two touchdowns.
“You could see all week we were ready in practice,” said Cox. “Last year is in the past and we have to work even harder to win another title. The seniors want their own ring. But this is just one game. We have to keep improving and play hard for the entire game.”
Shannon was held to just seven total yards and two first downs in the opening 24 minutes. Even when the Red Raiders had good field position, the stingy Green Wave defense made the going tough. In fact, in their best threat of the first half, West Point’s Dequinten Spraggins intercepted Shannon quarterback Legilbert Bogans and capped off the first-half scoring with an 89-yard interception return.
For the game, West Point totaled 253 yards on the ground, even with 2009 leading rusher and senior tailback LaKenderic Thomas sidelined with a one-game suspension.
Shannon head coach Chad Cook used Bogan and Jeff Scott both at quarterback but could never find any rhythm. Bogan was just 3-of-15 on the night and tossed two interceptions.
The Red Raiders did post 14 points in the third quarter to make the score more respectable. Scott scored from eight yards out while Marcus Thornton scored from 22 yards away.