HATTIESBURG • West Point’s football team continued its run of dominance on Saturday night.
West Point beat Picayune 38-26 for the MHSAA Class 5A state championship. It gave West Point its fourth-consecutive state championship and 11th overall, which ties South Panola for the most in state history.
Only West Point, South Panola and Bassfield have won four titles in a row.
“You never get tired of this feeling,” West Point coach Chris Chambless said. “This all started in the offseason. I can tell in the offseason if we are going to have a good year and have a shot at it. After the offseason we had, I knew we would have a shot at it.”
Picayune (14-1), led by the nation’s second leading rusher in Cameron Thomas, entered the game with the highest scoring offense in the state of Mississippi and was rushing for an average of 434 yards per game.
West Point held the Maroon Tide to only 197 yards on 36 carries, a season low in yards and points.
“He hadn’t run against the wave yet,” Brandon Harris said. “The Wave is going to shut everything down. That’s what we do.”
The Maroon Tide opened the game with 13 rushing attempts on its opening drive and went up 7-0 on a 9-yard touchdown by Thomas.
West Point (14-1) then went to work.
The Green Wave forced three punts and scored on three consecutive drives, starting with a Harris 3-yard touchdown run. TJ Anderson then caught a 18 yard touchdown pass from Corbin Kelley, and Harris found Jordan Rupert wide open for a 52-yard touchdown pass to go up 21-7.
Picayune jumped back into the game and scored on back-to-back plays late the second quarter. After a West Point punt, Thomas raced 76 yards for a touchdown to cut it to seven points, then Jaylen Hall intercepted a pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown.
The PAT was missed and West Point led 21-20 at halftime.
“We told them to not panic and the kids were saying the same thing,” Chambless said about the halftime speech. “We just didn’t want to panic right there.”
There was no panicking.
To open the second half, West Point drove straight down the field and scored on a Harris 2-yard touchdown. After forcing a punt, Alex Harper made it a two possession game, 31-20, with a 24-yard field goal.
Picayune scored a long touchdown on the ensuing possession, but the Green Wave iced the game with a touchdown run with 3:54 left in the game and forced a turnover on downs.
Turning Point: After Picayune cut the lead to 31-26 with 5:55 left to go, Harris hit Anderson for a 57-yard pick up that set up the game-clinching touchdown run by Kelvionte Gibbs.
Point Man: Harris finished with 160 offensive yards and three touchdowns while Dantariyus Cannon finished with 128 rushing yards.
Talking Point: “Me and Brandon together are unstoppable. Nobody can stop me and Brandon,” Cannon said.