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West Point football team rallies to beat Oxford


Jeff Eubanks, Special to The Dispatch



OXFORD -- After a slow offensive start Thursday night, it didn''t look like the West Point High School football team would pull out its sixth-consecutive victory at Bobby Holcomb Field. 


The Green Wave trailed by 16 with 10 minutes 7 seconds to go in the third quarter to district rival Oxford, but instead of sputtering along, they scored 26 unanswered points to outlast the Chargers 33-30. 


"Sometimes you got to crank up and go, and that is what we did," West Point coach Chris Chambless said. "We told them at halftime we had to get the job done. We were sluggish at first and didn''t get the job done. We weren''t playing hard. 


"We weren''t playing West Point football and that is what we told them at the half. You got to make a choice. You got to try and do your best and win the division or do you want to go out there and play like you did in the first half and get beat. You either win or you learn around West Point and we don''t like to learn lessons. This is probably good this happened. It''s going to wake us up a little more, and it''s going to make us play at a higher level for four quarters." 


After the Chargers took a 23-7 lead on a blocked punt recovered in the end zone early in the third quarter, the Green Wave scored on their next two possessions thanks to solid running from junior running backs Lakenderic Thomas and Jacoby Lee, who combined to rush for 198 yards and three touchdowns. 


Lee busted out for a 43-yard touchdown run on the first scoring possession. Thomas capped a 10-play, 69-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge to cut the deficit to 23-20 with 3:24 to play in the third quarter. 


The Green Wave (6-1, 3-0 Class 5A, Region 1, District 2) took the lead for good when they scored on their first two possessions of the fourth quarter. Lee scored from 10 yards out after being set up by a 21-yard run from Thomas to make it 26-23. Green Wave quarterback Justin Cox broke loose up the middle of the field untouched for a 31-yard touchdown scamper to make it 33-23 with 8:27 left to play in the game. 


The Chargers (2-5, 1-1) responded with a five-play, 58-yard scoring drive off the arm of quarterback Guy Cameron Billups (15 of 31, 217 yards, three touchdowns). Billups went 4-for-5 on the drive, connecting with wide receiver Stuart York for a pair of 20-yard gainers, the last being for a score to pull the Chargers within three at the 6:40 mark in the fourth quarter. 


Chambless knew the Green Wave had to do their best to contain Billups. 


"(Billups) put it on the money, even when we got to him with some pressure. His receivers went out their and got it," Chambless said. "The one thing I wrote on the board Sunday was that their quarterback is very efficient. When you got an efficient quarterback they are going to give you trouble. We did 7-on-7 drills all week working to stop the pass. You can''t stop all of it; you just hope to contain it. He did a good job throwing the football. I was very impressed with him." 


Cox, who rushed for 88 yards on 13 carries and threw for 62, came up with a big 23-yard run on a third-and-19 play deep in his own territory on the ensuing Green Wave possession to extend a 14-play drive that ate up over six minutes off the clock and kept the ball out of Billups and the Chargers'' hands. 


"Coach (Chambless) told me to run," Cox said. "He said, ''Justin just run the ball. Get me this first down. Please.'' I had to get it. I just wanted it. I didn''t want to lose this game." 


The Chargers got the ball back with 32 seconds left at their 11, and after two incomplete passes by Billups, junior linebacker Deisom Robinson delivered a huge hit to Billups on third down, jarring the ball loose and sealing the win. 


Back-to-back scoring drives in the first quarter pushed the Chargers ahead 13-7. Billups connected with Stefun Gill on a slant route for a 13-yard touchdown pass for the first score. He then found Deante Smith down the left sideline for a 60-yard strike on the Chargers'' next possession. 


The Green Wave answered the Chargers'' first score with a 66-yard drive that culminated with a 1-yard scoring run by Xavier Hogan. 


A 23-yard field goal by Matt Williams in the second quarter put the Chargers up 16-7 at halftime. 




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