West Point High School’s Brandon Harris carries the ball against Lafayette County. Harris had 17 carries for 124 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner in the fourth quarter, to help West Point score 15 unanswered points in the second half to defeat Lafayette 27-20. Photo by: David Miller/Special to The Dispatch
November 18, 2018 1:02:40 AM
WEST POINT -- Hybrid athlete Brandon Harris has a favorite personnel grouping on the West Point High School football team's play sheet.
The formation is called "Beast-cat," and Harris was the right element in the alignment Friday night in the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A quarterfinals at McCallister Field.
"(The formation is) beast. That is what I am, a beast," Harris said. "When you see the beast-cat formation, you are going to see deuce."
Harris had 17 carries for 124 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner in the fourth quarter, to help West Point score 15 unanswered points in the second half to defeat Lafayette 27-20.
"The guys who have come before, Marcus Murphy and many others, have mentored me to this position, and gave me the rock to carry," Harris said. "It is a blessing. God was on our shoulder, and we are going to keep playing hard."
Harris and the Green Wave (12-1) secured their only lead early in the fourth quarter. Out of the Beast-cat formation, Harris pounded his way into the end zone from 7 yards out, utilizing three pulling blockers to find pay dirt. Jose Lemus added his lone extra point.
"When we went to halftime, coach let me know I was going to get the ball in my hands," Harris said. "He told me to lead this team. We got better and better as we played tonight. We have things we need to clean up by next week."
Although West Point had the lead, the win wasn't secured without some drama. Lafayette had one more shot after West Point coughed up the football with less than two minutes in the game deep inside Lafayette territory. Junior quarterback Randy Anderson led his offense to the West Point 31-yard line before his final heave for the end zone was batted down by Ryan Melton and Tyler Rupert at the goal line.
"It is playoff football, and neither team is going to go away lightly," West Point coach Chris Chambless said. "Our defense stepped up immensely during the second half, and I know Lafayette did not want to end their season. We just dug deep and bowed up."
Harris (six touches for 48 yards) and the West Point offense were stifled in the first half. The offense had 85 rushing yards and 130 total yards by halftime. The total was 47 yards less than the Commodores.
Harris then blew the doors off following the intermission. The junior touched the ball 11 times and nearly doubled his output with 76 yards. The success came mainly out of the "Beast-cat" formation that provided so much success for Harris, who has back-to-back 100-plus-yard games. It also was the catalyst for a 189-yard rushing output in the final two quarters.
"When we scored first in the second half, we knew the momentum shifted," Chambless said. "We stuck with run and threw it when we needed to do it. As a staff, we know Brandon Harris can carry the workload, but that can be said about all our running backs. When their number is called, they answer it."
West Point trailed by eight points at halftime, but the momentum shifted after the first two minutes of the second half. After a kickoff return to midfield and a facemask penalty on the return moved the ball into Lafayette territory, West Point marched 38 yards in five plays. Harris rushed for 25 yards to the Lafayette to set up Kameron Martin's plunge into the end zone. The two-point conversion failed.
The Green Wave continued the rally later in the quarter. After Lafayette stretched its advantage to eight points again, Ryan Melton returned the ensuing kickoff 73 yards to the Commodores' 5. Three plays later, Harris went to his left, broke two tackles, and rumbled into the end zone. Attempting to tie the game, Jake Chambless used misdirection to find a wide-open Sema'J Harris on the back side of the end zone to tie it at 20.
"We played well in the first half, but we changed gears in the second half," Chambless said.
In the first half, it was all Lafayette. Anderson rushed 10 times for 61 yards and two touchdowns to give Lafayette a 14-6 lead. Anderson scored on the game's opening score to cap the 14-play series. He extended the lead to eight points before halftime with a 1-yard sneak.
The win propels West Point, the two-time reigning Class 5A State champions, to its fourth-straight Class 5A North Half Championship Game. It also extended West Point's winning streak to 10 games. West Point will play host to Olive Branch, which defeated Holmes County 21-0, at 7 p.m. Friday in West Point. It is a rematch from the regular season and last year's North Half championship game.
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