Defense helps West Point beat New Hope in district matchup

October 5, 2009 2:59:00 PM

Adam Minichino - [email protected]


Their jerseys are old school. 


The big, bold green numbers 30 and 66 on white jerseys stare down opponents. 


It''s simple and clean, even without the players'' names on the back of the jerseys. 


On Friday night, Jamal Petty and Vontarrius Dora made a statement wearing those numbers. 


Petty and Dora led a dominating defensive effort that helped the West Point High School football team beat New Hope 35-8 in a Class 5A, Region 1, District 2 matchup at Trojan Field. 


Petty had three sacks in the first half and Dora sparked a stellar performance by the defensive line to help the Green Wave improve to 5-1 and 2-0 in the district. 


New Hope, which celebrated its homecoming, slipped to 4-1 and 1-1. 


"We have been on the verge of being very good on defense, and we have been good on defense, but we have been giving up some big plays," West Point coach Chris Chambless said. "We gave up a big play tonight, but when our backs are against the wall we got it done." 


West Point stood strong thanks to solid efforts from Petty (career-high three sacks) and Dora. Matthew Lewis also had a sack, and Gary Hughes had two interceptions to help West Point hold New Hope to -8 yards offense in the first half. 


"We just went at it and did what the coaches told us to do," Petty said. "We can''t get the big head. We played all right, but we can do everything better." 


Petty is one of several West Point defensive starters who doesn''t have his name on the back of his jersey. He said players need to attend all 25 days of workouts in the summer to get their name on the white jersey. He said he was "lazy" and didn''t do what he should have done to earn the recognition. 


Dora had cartilage removed from his knee in the offseason, which forced him to miss training time in the summer and the opportunity to get his name on the back of his jersey. But Dora is on the road back to 100 percent after playing bigger roles in each of the past three games. 


On a night when there were plenty of big plays, Dora had one of the biggest. A safety and the resulting free kick in the first quarter set the Trojans up on the Green Wave 45. But Dora stopped Terrance Dentry for an 11-yard loss on first down. Petty pushed the Trojans back another 9 yards with a sack, and two plays later Hughes made the first of his two interceptions. 


"We played pretty good tonight," said Dora, a junior. "The defensive line had pressure on the quarter, the ends had pressure on the quarter, and he really didn''t have anywhere to throw the ball or time to get set." 


Very little went right for New Hope. 


The Trojans caught a break when Justin Cox couldn''t catch a fourth-down pass from defensive back Jamarius Tallie that would have went for a touchdown. 


It didn''t matter, though, because New Hope quarterback Zak Thrasher fumbled on the next play. Senior Davoris Davenport scooped up the football inside the 20-yard line and scored to help make it 14-2. 


New Hope committed two penalties in three plays on its next drive. Later in the second quarter, New Hope''s defense was whistled for encroachment with West Point facing a fourth-and-inches from the Trojans'' 11. Two plays later, Lakenderic Thomas scored on a 1-yard plunge and Kwame Williams'' kick made it 21-2. 


Dentry sparked the Trojans when he took the opening handoff of the second half and raced 73 yards for a touchdown. New Hope''s conversion run failed, but they had new life down 21-8. 


That momentum evaporated in 12 seconds. 


A penalty negated Tanner Ryals'' kick into the end zone. It proved even more costly seconds later after Michael Carr scooted 69 yards to help push the lead back to 28-8. 


New Hope fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Stefon Branham recovered the give the Green Wave the ball at the Trojans'' 39. 


Offsetting penalties erased a Cox touchdown pass to Michael Bush. Four plays later, Thomas scored from 5 yards and Williams added the extra point to account for the scoring. 


New Hope had one last push to get back into the game. The Trojans used 15 plays to march 64 yards to the Green Wave 1. But West Point stuffed quarterback Zak Thrasher on third-and-goal from the 1 and pushed Dentry back for a 1-yard loss on fourth down. 


Dora, Petty, and Gary Hughes teamed on the stop that proved to be the Trojans'' final gasp. 


"West Point came ready to play and we didn''t," New Hope coach Michael Bradley said. "They''re a championship football team and a championship program. They have played in a lot of big games, and our kids obviously have not. It was a matter of rising to the occasion. They did and we didn''t." 


West Point had an answer at every turn. Bradley said Chambless and his coaching staff deserve all of the credit because they outcoached the Trojans.  


On the field, Bradley said the Green Wave outplayed, outhit, and outhustled the Trojans. 


The West Point defense led the charge. The Green Wave pressured Thrasher and didn''t give him time to feel comfortable in the pocket. When the Green Wave flushed Thrasher from the pocket, they swarmed him and made things even tougher. 


Chambless said the Green Wave didn''t want Thrasher to have a night like he did last week against Oxford when he went 12-for-17 for 182 yards in a 21-11 victory. 


The Green Wave used a blitzing scheme and some right choices to prevent Thrasher from finding his rhythm. 


"Sometimes you have to guess right, and we guessed right a few times (on the blitz) and it worked," Chambless said. "Our assistant coaches did a great job. I couldn''t ask for a better staff." 


Said Bradley, "They had a real good game plan defensively. We anticipated some of the things they were going to do. We thought we had a good game plan offensively, but Xs and Os don''t really matter a whole lot. It''s execution. They executed on defense and we did not execute on offense. We had several plays where we did not block who we were supposed to. That is to their credit." 


Even though not many things went right for his team, Bradley hopes the Trojans will take one thing from the game. He said the Trojans have to play with the energy and have to have the attitude West Point showed Friday night. 


"That''s the level you have to play at if you want to win a championship," Bradley said. "They came into this game expecting to win. We came into this game hoping to win." 


Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.