November 15, 2009 12:32:00 AM
WEST POINT -- After a couple bad experiences with the passing game Friday, the West Point High School football team opted to go with what it knows.
The result was 371 rushing yards and five touchdowns as the Green Wave shared its knowledge with Canton in a 36-0 victory in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North Half State playoffs.
The Tigers (4-8) put up a fight, but couldn''t gain any traction in a tense game, which saw both teams draw double-digit penalties on multiple unsportsmanlike conduct calls.
The only bright spots for Canton were a pair of interceptions of Justin Cox (2-for-8, 19 yards). But the Tigers couldn''t turn them into points and the Green Wave responded by pounding the ground.
"It''s a lot of fun watching a team run it down somebody''s throat over and over," West Point coach Chris Chambless said. "I''m glad I''m on our sideline instead of their side of the ball. Our offensive line knocks them off the ball and our backs get that extra yard when they get hit. Even on a sloppy field like this, they still get the job done. That''s West Point football."
West Point football was so effective Friday the Green Wave (11-1) didn''t punt. That was in large part thanks to junior tailback Jacoby Lee''s phenomenal 138-yard, four-touchdown performance.
"Jacoby''s been running the ball hard every week," Chambless said. "It just seems like he gets stronger and stronger every game. He was easier to tackle early in the year, but now he''s breaking the first and second tackle, keeping his feet, doing a better job holding on to the ball."
Lee had the fresh legs because West Point worked its running backs carousel with LaKenderic Thomas (17 carries, 119 yards, one touchdown) and Xavier Hogan (nine carries, 60 yards).
The Green Wave defense played just as well as, if not better, than the offense, earning the shutout it missed after giving up a late touchdown to Hernando last week.
Senior defensive tackle and Mississippi State signee Curtis Virges racked up one-and-a-half sacks, while senior defensive back Gary Hughes made an interception.
As a whole, the defense allowed 4 yards rushing and 110 passing yards.
"Defense played lights-out tonight," Chambless said. "Canton''s a good football team, and they''ve got a running back who got player-of-the-week last week."
The defense set a goal of holding tailback Jacorey Ousley to less than 100 yards. Despite 21 carries, Canton''s workhorse managed just 45 yards.
"I have to give credit where credit''s due. It''s West Point," Canton coach Peter Brown said. "They just stopped everything we tried to do. They were well prepared and well coached. We thought we had pretty good steam on certain plays, but they just shut it down. I could see them being state champs."