SALTILLO — The West Point High School football team clinched a Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A playoff berth Friday night with a 31-7 victory against Saltillo in a Class 5A, Region 1 game.
The Green Wave improved to 6-2 and 4-0 in region play with their fourth straight victory. West Point is scheduled to meet Oxford in a battle of region unbeatens Oct. 26 at West Point.
“I thought we played extremely hard and really gave a great effort,” West Point coach Chris Chambless said. “As we get deeper in the season, the kids are really focusing and paying better attention to detail. Our offensive line had a phenomenal game.”
Aeris Williams paced the Green Wave with 223 rushing yards. Williams scored on runs of 15 and 3 yards. Quarterback Tez Lane followed that up with a 2-yard scoring run as West Point built a 21-0 halftime lead.
In the second half, Williams capped his monster night with his third touchdown, a 3-yard run. Kicker Eric Lemus completed the scoring with a 43-yard field goal.
Saltillo (5-3, 2-2) scored in the fourth quarter on an 80-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Tomlinson to A.J. Hunt. That score snapped a streak of seven scoreless quarters in region play for the West Point defense.
“We strive for perfection, other than that one big play, we came close in this game,” Chambless said. “Still a lot of football left to be played and we got to keep going in the right direction.”
West Points will play host to Center Hill (3-5, 2-2) in another region game Friday night.
n New Hope 8, Lake Cormorant 7: At Lake Cormorant, The Trojans earned an important road victory in Class 5A, Region 1 thanks to 1-yard run by Austin Oswalt and a swinging gate conversion run by Brandon Spann.
“We moved the ball fairly well at times, but we just couldn’t finish drives,” New Hope coach Michael Bradley said. “We had a field goal blocked and four times we got nothing when we were inside the 20-yard line. We have to do a better job executing in the red zone. We are our own worst enemy, but our defense did a great job and played very well. We played extremely hard. I am very proud of how hard our defense played. I am proud for our team. We needed a win in the worst way, and we finally defeated ourselves to get a win.”
New Hope (3-5, 1-3 Class 5A, Region 1) surrendered a score to Lake Cormorant (4-4, 1-3) with nine minutes to play but held on to a one-point lead. The Trojans went three-and-out on their next possession and then recovered a fumbled punt inside the 20. Unfortunately, they came up empty again.
New Hope stopped Lake Cormorant at about the 35 with about four minutes to play and then got an all-important first down to run out the clock.
“We are the toughest opponent we have played all year,” Bradley said, meaning no disrespect to the quality teams the Trojans have played this season. He said his comment reflects how the Trojans’ youth and inexperience at multiple positions has affected the team’s consistency and execution.
On this night, though, New Hope overcame the lack of production with an intense, hard-fought effort.
“We played really, really hard,” Bradley said. “I am very proud of the way we played on defense especially. We just have to finish drives.
“It was big for us. I hope it will give us a boost of confidence and help us continue to compete. It was good to get a win after being close against Oxford and after so many things went wrong against Saltillo and Hernando. It was good to get a win. It sure was.”
Bradley highlighted the efforts of Juan Cedano, who he said played his “usual lights-out game”, Tee Payne, Marcus Johnson, the secondary, and defensive lineman Bradley Hendrix.
“I thought it was a total team effort.” Bradley said.
n Oak Hill Academy 37, New Site 14: At West Point, The Raiders (4-5) rushed for 209 yards and snapped a three-game losing streak in their non-district victory.
“I told them before the tough streak started that the next three weeks after that wouldn’t be as tough” Oak Hill Academy coach Daniel Merchant said about losses to Canton Academy, Leake Academy, and Heritage Academy. They were focused and really responded. I think this is going to help us in the long run. We’re looking forward to the challenge of the next two weeks.”
Samuel Harrell rushed three times for 80 yards, Drake Riley rushed seven times for 76 and Drew Riley had 16 carries for 44 yards.
Riley Pierce filled in for Conner Baird at quarterback and was 1 of 2 for 15 yards. He hit Bradley Allen with a touchdown pass for his only yards.
Drew Riley scored on a 32-yard run, Pierce scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak after Jeb Stevens blocked a punt, Drake Riley scored on a 49-yard run, and Harrell scored on a 57-yard run.
Drew Riley had 10 solo tackles to lead the defense. Drake Riley had an interception he returned 50 yards for a touchdown. He also had six solo tackles. A.J. Isley had a fumble recovery and seven solo tackles. Joseph Caskey had a sack, a forced fumble, and five solo tackles. Paxton Trull, Dakota O’Bryant, and Palmer White each had five solo tackles.
Oak Hill Academy will close to regular season with games against Kirk and Immanuel Christian. Merchant said his team still has a chance to claim a wild-car playoff berth if it takes care of business and receives help in certain games. He said the fact that the Raiders still have life will be a huge motivator for his players.
“They want to have a winning season for the first time since 2006,” Merchant said. “We have a lot to play for, and they know it.”
n Manchester Academy 41, Immanuel Christian 12: At Steens, the Rams slipped to 3-6 with their non-district home loss.
Immanuel Christian scored on a 53-yard pass from Stephen Goode to Josh Dantzler in the first quarter.
Justin Tate had a 38-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to cut Manchester Academy’s lead to 21-12.
Tate rushed for 68 yards n 13 carries. Goode was 2 of 5 for 58 yards. Tate was 1 of 1 for 27 yards. Dantzler had three catches for 88 yards.
Bruce Baudoin led the Rams with seven tackles. Wilson Harmond also played a strong game on defense, as did Dantzler, Luke Hudson, and K.C. Cunningham, who each had five tackles. Omar Aquil had three tackles and an interception.
n Victory Christian 49, North River Christian 6: At Columbus, Anthony Sharp rushed for 119 yards on seven carries to help the Eagles improve to 3-4 and 3-1 in the Christian Football Association.
Hunter Austin had six catches for 93 yards. Bryer Bolton was 3 of 5 with three touchdown passes. He had a 24-yard pass to Michael Elliott, and 30-yard pass to Cody Bolton, and a 4-yard touchdown run.
Austin added a 23-yard touchdown run, Sharp had a 32-yard touchdown run and a 6-yard run.
Sharp and Joshua Foxworthy led the defense with seven tackles apiece.
n Aberdeen 52, Mooreville 6: At Mooreville, the Bulldogs secured a playoff spot with the road victory in Class 3A, Region 2 play.
Aberdeen (7-2, 3-1) received three rushing touchdowns from Chico Harrison and two more scores from Josh Williams. The Bulldogs scored on four of their first five possessions to build a 21-0 first-half advantage.
“We had a real good attitude going into the game,” Aberdeen coach Mark Bray said. “I thought our focus was good. This was a big region game and it helps us toward the playoff chase.”
While winning a fifth straight game, the Bulldogs scored 52 points for a third straight region game.
“We are beginning to find our identity on offense,” Bray said. “The line has really stepped up and done a tremendous job. We still have some big games left, because it is important to be hosting when the playoffs begin.”
Aberdeen will play host to Water Valley (8-1, 3-0) Friday night for the region lead. The top two teams in the region host a first-round playoff game. Aberdeen can clinch that by beating Water Valley or South Pontotoc the following week.
n Pelahatchie 56, East Oktibbeha 16: At Pelahatchie, the Titans saw a big blow to its postseason chances with a loss to one of the Class 1A, Region 3 leaders.
While dropping a third straight region game, the Titans (2-6, 1-4) have been outscored 122-22 in those games.
Steve Bell led East Oktibbeha with a rushing touchdown and receiving touchdown thrown by quarterback Justin Williams. Williams and Juwan Roberts each ran for two-point conversions.
For the contest, Bell ran for a team-high 83 yards.
East Oktibbeha will try to right the ship Friday night when it plays host to West Oktibbeha (7-1, 5-0). The Titans will need to win two of their final three region games and win a tiebreaker to qualify for postseason play.
n Hamilton 27, J.Z. George 6: At Hamilton, the Lions clinched a playoff berth with a critical home victory in the Class 2A, Region 2 race.
Hamilton (4-5, 2-1) bounced back from a tough region setback to Eupora and guaranteed itself of no worse than a fourth place finish in the final region standings.
Hamilton will close region play by hosting East Webster on Friday night. It will travel to Ackerman the following week.
n Calhoun Academy 40, Hebron Christian 12: At Pittsboro, the Eagles saw its season-opening win streak snapped at eight games with a hard-fought loss to fellow unbeaten Calhoun Academy.
For Hebron Christian (8-1), Will-Corben Rogers and Taylor Coggins each scored touchdowns.
“Calhoun Academy has a really great team with a lot of speed,” Hebron Christian coach David Foster said. “It was a difficult task containing them. We have played hard all season and I am really proud of the effort the kids have given.”
Coggins scored on a 1-yard run as the Eagles led 6-0 after one quarter.
Calhoun Academy (9-0) got the running game going in the second quarter. Devin Northrip scored on a 20-yard run and followed that up with a 1-yard run from Hunter Harmon for a 14-6 halftime lead.
In the second half, Harmon hit Danny Joe Norman for a 15-yard pass play. The duo hooked up later for a 21-yard scoring play to score a 19-point fourth quarter for the hosts.
A 7-yard run Rogers brought the Eagles within 27-12 before a pair of late touchdowns by Calhoun Academy put the contest away.