October 3, 2010 12:43:00 AM
WEST POINT -- The New Hope and West Point high school football teams were neck-and-neck heading into halftime of a pivotal Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A, Region 1 matchup Friday night.
But the Green Wave capitalized on three second-half New Hope interceptions to claim a 24-14 victory at Hamblin Stadium.
"Anytime you can make big plays you''ve got to make them," West Point coach Chris Chambless said. "You can''t drop passes and you''ve got to make interceptions and go make the tackles if you want to win. We''re going to have to do a better job of it and make the plays when it counts. Last I checked every play counts."
West Point (5-1, 2-0 region) had 328 yards offense, including 260 rushing. Senior quarterback and Mississippi State commitment Justin Cox had 144 yards and all three Green Wave touchdowns. He rushed 10 times for 76 yards and two scores and was 4 of 11 for 68 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions.
"It felt pretty good, but we made some simple mistakes we''ve got to work on to improve," Cox said.
West Point senior running back LaKenderic Thomas rushed for a team-high 100 yards on 20 carries, while Jamarius Tallie led the Green Wave with a 39-yard touchdown catch.
West Point scored first midway through the opening quarter when Cox broke loose on a 43-yard run. He stiff-armed a defender at the line of scrimmage and sprinted down the right sideline for the score.
The Trojans matched that touchdown halfway through the second quarter and took the lead. Terrence Payne recovered a fumble at midfield to get the New Hope offense on the field. The Trojans capitalized on the solid field position and found the end zone four plays later when Zak Thrasher found a wide open Darius Petty for a 19-yard touchdown. Tanner Ryals added the extra point to go up 7-6.
West Point answered before intermission with a 13-play, 64-yard drive. Eric Lemus came on to kick a 29-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to give the Green Wave a 9-7 advantage.
Things went downhill for New Hope in the second half, which began with an interception with a little less than five minutes to play in the third quarter. Dequenten Spraggins intercepted Thrasher and returned it to the New Hope 39-yard line.
The Green Wave needed only one play to score from there, as Cox rolled right and hit Tallie with a 39-yard strike. Lemus'' extra point made it 16-7.
Spraggins'' second interception came on the ensuing possession and gave West Point the ball at midfield.
The Green Wave again capitalized on the turnover when Cox scored on a 13-yard run six plays later. Jacoby Lee plowed in the two-point conversion to give West Point a 24-7 lead win a minute to play in the third quarter.
The Trojans added a late 2-yard touchdown pass from Thrasher to Lawrence Brown with 40 seconds remaining.
New Hope (3-3, 1-1) ended the game with 218 yards, 167 passing.
"We became a one-dimensional ballclub," New Hope coach Michael Bradley said. "We couldn''t run on them and Terrance Dentry got hurt on the very first play of the game. He tried to suck it up and go and he couldn''t. When you lose the threat of running ball against a team like West Point they are going to pin their ears back and come after you, and that''s what they did. They forced us into some bad plays."
Thrasher was 9 of 23 for 167 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions.
Petty caught two passes for 59 yards and a touchdown, while Dentry had 28 yards on nine carries.
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