WEST POINT – Saltillo took the air out of West Point. Didn’t take West Point long to refill it.
West Point scored 29 unanswered points Friday to beat the Tigers, 43-22, in Division 1-5A play.
Its run game stymied by West Point’s front, Saltillo came out throwing. Quarterback Tyler Tollison was 3-for-14 for 106 yards, some dropped, some not placed. RB Diamante Pounds was held to 40 yards on nine carries.
“You can’t drop passes when you’re open, can’t miss open receivers,” Saltillo coach Pat Byrd said. “The kids played with great effort. You just can’t make mistakes against people who know how to play.”
Saltillo (6-4, 2-3 division) led 22-14 at the half, but left haunted by mistakes, including a botched onside kick to open the second half. It gave the Green Wave the ball near midfield. Six plays later Quincy Starks scored on a 21-yard run to cut the lead to one.
Tollison fumbled two plays later and Mississippi State commit Aeris Williams scored the second of his three touchdowns for a 29-22 lead.
“In the first half, we got lackadaisical,” Williams said. “If we don’t put our defense in a hole, we play good.”
The Green Wave (5-4, 2-3) took two Saltillo turnovers and ran 21 plays to Saltillo’s four in the third quarter.
It turned out not to be a battle of the state’s second and third leading rushers, Pounds and Williams. Williams finished with 268 yards on 36 carries and three touchdowns. Pounds did have a 77-yard touchdown catch and kick return to the end zone on a free kick.
The Tigers took momentum to the break thanks to a 50-yard prayer from Tollison to David Little as time expired. Less than 2 minutes earlier, the Tigers got a safety, thanks to punter Drake McCarter’s 52-yard punt. On the free kick, Pounds went 62 yards for a touchdown.