Photo/James Pugh

West Jones tried as it could to dethrone Mississippi’s top Class 5A football program for the previous two years running Saturday night at M. M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg. 

The effort fell short. West Point (14-1) picked up its third straight 5A title with a 27-12 win over West Jones (12-3) in the final MHSAA Gridiron Classic game of the 2018 season. Their 10th in school history is only second behind South Panola in Mississippi, who has 11 total. It was West Jones’ first appearance in an MHSAA football championship game. 

As good as its defense has been all season, West Jones could not slow down West Point’s rushing attack enough to make the difference. The Green Wave racked up 227 yards on the ground Saturday night as well as 88 yards through the air. Junior athlete Brandon Harris led West Point with 120 rushing yards on 23 carries and one touchdown. He also threw for a score – a 25-yard pass to junior tight end Treddis Anderson on West Point’s first offensive drive of the contest. 

West Jones struck first, though. On a 14-play, 53-yard opening drive, the Mustangs stalled in West Point territory. Ole Miss commit Walker Thompson drilled its field goal attempt from 46 yards out with 6:36 left in the first quarter to give West Jones a 3-0 lead. 

It was the only lead West Jones would have. West Point answered on Harris’ 25-yard strike to Anderson to complete a nine play, 80-yard opening drive for the Green Wave. 

Special teams gave West Point a two-score cushion on the Mustangs’ following drive. Senior Ryan Melton blocked a Thompson punt attempt and returning it 25 yards for a 14-3 Green Wave lead after a successful PAT. Melton also had an interception in the fourth quarter on a West Jones offensive drive that could’ve tied the game. 

West Point added another score in the first half after a 37-yard field goal by Thompson and West Jones. Senior running back Jaylun Eggerson scored on a two-yard run that completed a six-play, 80-yard drive with 6:45 left in the second quarter. The touchdown gave West Point a 20-6 lead. Eggerson finished with 43 rushing yards on seven carries. 

The second half was made interesting following a 61-yard touchdown pass from West Jones sophomore quarterback Alan Follis to senior wide receiver Antonie Kirk. The early third quarter score cut West Point’s lead, 20-12, with 9:17 to go in the quarter. It was the only touchdown West Jones scored. 

The score held late into the game till West Point sealed its win with a 15-play, 84-yard scoring drive capped off with a five-yard Harris run. Between the time, West Jones had its chances with three offensive drives. Those drives ended in a punt, turnover on downs and interception. 

Follis led West Jones with 153 yards passing on 11 completions and one touchdown. 

West Point outgained West Jones in total yards, 315-250.