By Paul Jones/Special to the Journal
STARKVILLE – Four quarters was not enough for Starkville and West Point to decide the Class 5A North championship.
Starkville senior Gabe Myles made sure it wasn’t decided in a second overtime.
On fourth-and-goal from the 15-yard line, Myles threw a touchdown pass to Kentrell Spencer and then ran in for the game-winning two-point conversion. That last play gave the Jackets a 29-28 win over West Point and a return ticket to the Class 5A championship game.
“Just make something happen and this was the two best teams in the north state going after it,” said Myles, a Mississippi State commitment. “We just had to make the big plays when they were there to be made.
“I kept praying all season we would get back,” to the Class 5A title game, he added, “and I kept on praying tonight.”
Starkville won its 10th straight game and moved to 11-3 while West Point ended the season at 11-3.
West Point took a 28-21 lead in overtime on Aeris Williams’ fourth touchdown of the night. And the Jackets decided on their possession there would not be a second overtime, one way or the other.
“There are absolutely no words to describe that,” said Starkville head coach Jamie Mitchell. “I felt like we missed on so many plays but in the end we made a few more plays. When it went into overtime I knew this bunch isn’t one you want to be in overtime with. We knew very early if we scored we were going for 2, because West Point is impossible to stop from 10 yards away.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Jackets took advantage of good field position and a long drive to build a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. Jacquez Horsley capped off a 12-play, 87-yard drive with a six-yard scoring run on the first play of the second quarter.
Then the Jackets needed one play – a 47-yard touchdown sprint by Preston Baker – with just over five minutes left in the half to increase their lead to 14-0.
But on their final possession of the half, West Point head coach Chris Chambless took a gamble and it paid off. From his own 18-yard line, the Green Wave faked a punt and picked up the first down. West Point made it count, too, when Tez Lane connected with Williams from 18 yards out with just seven ticks left in the first half.
Williams scored two more touchdowns in the second half and finished the night with 29 carries for 108 yards and three touchdowns rushing.
“We had chances, they had chances and they made the last play,” said Chambless. “Our kids played their hearts out and it was anybody’s game. It hurts and my job is to keep the team together and come back and fight again.”