September 26, 2009 10:05:00 PM
WEST POINT -- The West Point High School football team received a bit of a scare from Gentry on Friday night in West Point before putting the brakes on surging Rams 39-20.
The Green Wave (4-1) began the game as expected, pounding the football on the ground despite the absence of senior tailback Xavier Hogan, who is nursing an injury. West Point alternated between Lakenderic Thomas (14 carries, 99 yards) and Jacoby Lee (15-81) until Thomas found the end zone on a 3-yard run with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The shocker came when Gentry''s Jackie Simpson ran the ensuing kickoff back 75 yards.
Undeterred, West Point produced a game-breaking play when senior receiver Michael Carr took an end-around 56 yards for a touchdown to help give West Point a 13-7 lead after one quarter.
The Green Wave kept the pressure on in the second quarter, scoring early on a 5-yard run by Thomas. Carr took the two-point attempt in to make it 21-7.
Gentry (3-2) refused to quit. Two quick strikes through the air moved the Rams 56 yards before Lakarius Cattlidge hit Carlton Cattlidge from 10 yards out for another touchdown.
Carr sparked the Green Wave when he laid out in the end zone to snag a Justin Cox pass from 20 yards out. The half ended with the Green Wave leading 27-14.
Gentry controlled the ball in the third quarter despite being outgained 59-15. Two big personal foul penalties on the Green Wave put Gentry in a position to score when Lakarius Cattlidge rambled through and around the defense for a 17-yard touchdown.
West Point gained most of its yards in the third quarter on a long late drive that paid off early in the fourth quarter. Cox broke through from 1 yard out for a touchdown to extend the lead to 33-20.
Carr returned a punt 55 yards for the game''s final points.
Gentry High coach Phillip Wasson wasn''t surprised his team challenged West Point for three quarters.
"I knew you''ve got one of the best ball teams in the state right here in West Point, and I was happy for my kids to come out and compete with them," Wasson said. "We did give up a lot of mistakes. I was happy with our passing game. We were able to pass the ball around a lot. Up to this point we were just running a lot."
The Rams passed for 100 yards on a 9-for-18 performance by Cattlidge, who also stood out as the clear go-to rusher, despite finishing with only 3 yards after some losses of yardage.
"He does that week in and week out," said Wasson of Cattlidge, who also lined up at middle linebacker. "We''ve got enough kids on the team, but he''s just a special player. Mississippi State is looking at him really hard at strong safety."
West Point coach Chris Chambless was equally unsurprised that the Rams put up a fight.
"I know Gentry. We''ve watched them on film all week, played them the last three years and they were a playoff team last year," Chambless said. "It''s not that we took them lightly.
"We didn''t tackle (Cattlidge) very well. He got loose a few times. We didn''t run our lanes on kickoff (coverage). You can''t make those errors against good teams and expect to win."
Chambless said West Point''s physical style helped wear the Rams down and allowed the Green Wave to break away in the fourth quarter.
West Point will travel to New Hope next week, while Gentry will take on Lake Cormorant.
2. Harris, Heritage Academy will count on seniors to lead way HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Howland likes MSU's non-conference schedule COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Central Academy hopes to contend for state title HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. Walters column: Prep football season coming closer LOCAL COLUMNS