WEST POINT • It was a game of momentum swings and in the end, it was too much West Point. The Green Wave overcame an early 14-0 deficit and held on late to defeat Starkville 41-35 on Friday.
The Green Wave (2-1) almost let a 41-14 lead evaporate after Starkville (1-2) scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. But West Point ran out the final two minutes to secure the win.
“There’s no give up in us, that’s for sure,” said West Point head coach Chris Chambless. “Starkville didn’t give up either and my hats off to them. It was one of the greatest games I’ve been involved with. I told the team to have my back after I went for it twice on fourth down, which goes against what I stand for. But this is what we practice all week and we ran the ball the Green Wave way.”
West Point rushed for 396 yards and senior Brandon Harris led the way with 156 and four touchdowns. Harris also threw a touchdown pass and accounted for West Point’s final five touchdowns of the game. Dantariyus Cannon added 136 rushing yards and one touchdown pass for the Green Wave.
In the early going, it appeared Starkville was going to rout the Green Wave on their own field. A pair of Luke Altmyer touchdown passes gave the Jackets a 14-0 lead in the game’s opening seven minutes.
Harris and the Green Wave responded quickly to the 14-0 deficit and in a major way. Harris scored touchdowns on three-consecutive series and West Point scored 28 unanswered points. The Jackets also aided the cause with a pair of turnovers in the second quarter and trailed West Point 28-14 at halftime.
“Just self-inflicted wounds,” said Starkville head coach Chris Jones. “At the end of the day, you can’t make mistakes against a good football team. I didn’t coach well enough and we didn’t play well enough.”
NyJal Johnson replaced Altmyer in the second half and passed for three touchdowns to lead the Jackets’ late charge. The Jackets passed for 336 yards but netted just three rushing yards.
Turning Point: After cutting the Starkville lead to 14-7, West Point recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff in the final seconds of the first quarter. The Green Wave cashed in on that turnover and outscored Starkville 21-0 in the second quarter.
Point Man: Harris rushed for 156 yards and accounted for five touchdowns, including four rushing scores.
Talking Point: “That’s the Green Wave way. That’s what we preach every day.” – West Point head coach Chris Chambless.
• The last time Starkville started off 1-2 was in 2013 after early losses to Oxford and West Point.
• Treddis Anderson Jr. of West Point found the end zone in the first quarter via a 26-yard halfback pass from Dantariyus Cannon. Anderson is the son of former West Point and Mississippi State standout Treddis Anderson.
• Starkville still leads the all-time series 71-22-4.