WEST POINT — West Point is known for its powerful run game.
But once again Friday night, the Green Wave utilized a secret weapon through the air to open things up.
Up 14-0 in the second quarter, West Point took a shot downfield on a 50-yard pass from Quinterion Tillman-Evans, who hit Jalon Cooperwood near the 5-yard line. Cooperwood had to make the catch through contact, but he brought it in and kept his balance to walk into the end zone.
West Point (9-2) went on to roll Holmes County Central (7-5) by a score of 55-14 in Friday’s MHSAA Class 5A first-round playoff game.
But even after the Green Wave jumped out to a 22-0 lead, the contest wasn’t over yet.
The Jaguars got a surprising score through the air on a 63-yard catch and run by Gavin How. The ball initially looked like it would be intercepted easily by Coledan Carter, but he only tipped the ball up and behind him, allowing How to take it and run it to the end zone.
A two-point conversion on a swing pass made it a 14-point game, and with a Green Wave drive stopped in the red zone with no points, it looked as though the Jaguars might take some momentum into the break.
It wasn’t to be, though, as the Green Wave defense forced a turnover, and Tillman-Evans ran in another touchdown from 14 yards out.
“It’s how you react to it,” head coach Chris Chambless said of the Jaguars’ touchdown on a mishap by the Green Wave defense. “It’s what you do the next play, the next series, and I thought our guys picked it up the next series and got after it good.”
The second half was routine, and West Point easily extended its winning streak to nine games. A controlling performance on defense down the stretch paired well with their offensive output, and the Green Wave made life very hard for the opposing quarterback.
“We just play with confidence,” linebacker Jhace Mallard said. “They pretty much stuck to the script that we ran all week in practice, so it’s a big thanks to the coaching. The defensive line played a great game, opened up gaps for us, so a great overall team win for us.”
Mallard found his way to the quarterback a couple times on the night, but he was sure to give credit where it was due to the work up front to create penetration throughout the night.
“That was one of our goals: control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” Chambless said. “I feel like for the most part we did that. We missed a few times on defense, whether we slid down, we got to be athletic enough to keep our feet and make a tackle, but overall I’m proud of my guys. We’ll go back on film and see what we messed up on.”
The Green Wave turn now to their next playoff opponent, Neshoba Central, whom West Point will host next week in the second round.
West Point 55, Holmes County Central 14
Holmes County Central (6-4) 0 8 0 6 — 13
West Point (9-2) 7 21 22 7 — 42
WP — Kahnen Daniels 1 run (Corbin Hendricks kick), clock 3:39
WP — Devin Jones 10 run (Hendricks kick), clock 9:33
WP — Jalon Cooperwood 50 pass from Quinterion Tillman-Evans (Daniels run), clock 5:33
HCC — Gavin How 63 pass from Keannon Palmer (Palmer pass), clock 4:25
WP — Tillman-Evans 14 run (kick failed), clock 0:19
WP — Daniels 2 run (Hendricks kick), clock 6:32
HCC — Octavious Pernell 10 pass from Palmer (run failed), clock 1:42
WP — Ahmari Cox 76 kick return (kick failed), clock 1:28
WP — Keshawn Henley 13 run (kick failed), clock 11:57
WP — Dustin Troupe 3 run (Hendricks kick), clock 8:29
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