September 7, 2013 2:33:06 AM
WEST POINT -- For the second straight week, a defense loaded up the line of scrimmage to stop the West Point High School football team's vaunted running attack.
For the second straight week that defense failed.
West Point (1-1) rolled up 488 rushing yards Friday night in a dominant 55-33 victory against Starkville High in a rematch of last year's Class 5A North Half title game.
"They have a North Half trophy in their case from last year we still think belongs to us," West Point quarterback Josh Ewing said. "We were mad coming into the game, and it feels so good to get a win one more time on Starkville."
Senior tailback and Mississippi State University verbal commitment Aeris Williams had 23 carries for a game-high 246 yards and two touchdowns.
"My offensive line and lead blocker make my life so much more easier every week," Williams said. "If we play like this week every week on offense, we'll be tough to beat. This is fun."
It took Starkville (1-2) more than 15 minutes to earn its initial first down. By that point, West Point was leading 21-0. The Yellow Jackets' only attempt at a comeback came thanks to senior A.J. Brown, who caught a 70-yard touchdown pass and then returned an interception 41 yards to make it 21-13 with 3 minutes, 46 second left in the first half.
Twenty consecutive points after halftime turned a temporary SHS momentum shift into a blowout victory for the host Green Wave and left Starkville coach Jamie Mitchell searching for answers.
"I apologize to everyone from Starkville that witnessed this tonight because that was embarrassing," Mitchell said. "This is our football team and I'm responsible for their performance, and we're just not a very good football team right now. That falls directly on me."
Starkville will look to stop its two-game losing streak next week when it plays host to Southaven. West Point will take on its third consecutive Class 6A opponent when it plays host to Columbus on Friday.
n Columbus 20, New Hope 16: At Columbus, Senior running back Kendrick Conner was well aware of the tight spot his team was in Friday night.
Leading rusher Kevin Jackson had been disqualified from the game for a flagrant personal foul and the Falcons had slopped their way to a fourth-quarter deficit against county rival New Hope.
Conner then took the Falcons under his wings, sparking a fourth-quarter rally with some monster running. Christian Petty scored the game winner from 1 yard as the Falcons edged the Trojans at Falcon Field.
"It was a county rivalry game and we really couldn't afford to lose," said Conner, who rushed for a team-high 76 yards on 20 carries. "We just couldn't lose to New Hope because that would not have been a good thing. In the fourth quarter, we had to step it up."
The Falcons received a big lift when senior quarterback Trace Lee took the field in the second quarter. He was forced to leave last week's loss to Noxubee County with a head injury. Lee guided his team to a 14-7 halftime lead.
New Hope bounced back behind junior quarterback Brady Davis, who threw for 338 yards, rushed for a touchdown, and threw for another. Still, the Trojans were done in by three turnovers and 10 penalties.
"This team is still learning how to finish," New Hope coach Shawn Gregory said. "It is one more step to take to the point where you are winning these types of games. We have the players to do it. They have the attitude to do it. I think we will be ready get over the hump by the time region play starts."
n Louisville 28, Noxubee County 6: At Macon, Demarcus Brooks rushed for a touchdown and caught a pass from quarterback Wyatt Roberts for another score, and the Wildcats (3-0) used a dominating defensive effort to beat the Tigers (1-2).
Roberts was 11 of 24 for 139 yards. He hit Brooks with a 19-yard touchdown pass and Dontae Jones with a 25-yard scoring strike. Jeremy Sangster also had an interception return for a score.
Eric Hunt's 87-yard kick return set up the Tigers' only score, a 1-yard run by Darrell Brandon.
n Aberdeen 39, Amory 13: At Amory, In a battle of dueling quarterbacks, Josh Williams led the Bulldogs to a victory against Fred Garth's Panthers.
Williams passed for two touchdowns, scored on an 11-yard run, and added a two-point conversion as the Bulldogs captured their fifth straight A-Team game.
n Immanuel Christian School 18, Carroll Academy 15: At Steens, the Rams used a late touchdown from JJ Swanagin to KC Cunningham to beat the Rebels.
The Rams dominated the Rebels defensively in the first half, holding them to two points. Immanuel Christian went into halftime leading 12-2 thanks to two touchdown passes by Swanagin.
The stingy Rams defense allowed the Rebels to battle back and take the lead 15-12 late in the fourth quarter.
With a little more than a minute remaining, Immanuel Christian prepared for its last scoring chance. On third-and-10 with 30 seconds left, Swanagin found Cunningham across the middle. Cunningham made some quick moves and smooth cuts and picked up a key block for the go-ahead score.
n Tri-County Academy 33, Oak Hill Academy 20: At West Point, the Raiders had a win in their hands.
Those hands were part of the reason the Raiders fell to 1-2, as they lost to Tri-County Academy on Friday night.
Oak Hill Academy quarterback Riley Pierce was intercepted twice, and the Raiders also lost two fumbles. The miscues stymied a powerful rushing attack, as Drake Riley had 23 carries for 119 yards and brother Drew Riley had 162 yards on 25 carries.
But three passing touchdowns (one on fourth down) by quarterback Trey Bozeman broke the game open.
n Pickens County 51, South Lamar 7: At Millport, Ala., When conventional wisdom didn't work Friday night for the Tornadoes they turned to defense and special teams to kick start a big victory.
The Tornadoes returned two fumble recoveries for touchdowns, one each by JaMarcus Smith and Jemarcus Brown, in their victory in the Region 5-1A opener for both teams.
Pickens County also scored on a 55-yard run by Devonte Simon on a fake punt.
"Coach has confidence in us. He gave me an option," Simon said. "If they were playing like we wanted to, we could audible to it, so we changed the play when we got out there."
It was that kind of night for South Lamar, which managed just 109 yards of total offense, with 64 of those yards coming on their final possession. The Tornadoes allowed less than 2 yards per rush all game. Stallion senior quarterback Canaan Fleming was pressured and harassed all night by a dominating defensive effort.
"We still made some mistakes we've got to get corrected," Pickens County coach Patrick Plott said. "We've got to go back and get better next week, but I think we played pretty well."
For more from these games and all of The Dispatch's prep football coverage, read Sunday's print edition or visit www.cdispatch.com for reports on all the teams.