WAYNESBORO – The No. 4 West Jones Mustangs used a goal-line stand late in the third period to propel them to an 18-2 win over Wayne County Friday night in the 28th meeting of these powerhouse Class 5A rivals.
It was Wayne County’s second straight loss to a Top 10 team as they fell to No. 10 D’Iberville last week. It was also the Mustangs’ third straight win over the War Eagles in this rivalry that goes back to 1991.
“I really think the goal-line stand late in the third period was the turning point,” said West Jones head coach Scott Pierson. “They had the momentum at that point, and even though we let them have a safety, it did slow down their momentum.”
It was the first time in the history of this rivalry that the War Eagles did not score a touchdown.
“We didn’t help ourselves on offense. We made too many mistakes on that side of the ball,” said Wayne County head coach Kevin Gandy. “I might be asking these guys to do something they are not accustomed to. It’s on me to fix the problem.”
Pierson said despite the win, his team needs to do a better job in the red zone.
“We had several opportunities in both halves to put points on the board and didn’t do it,” said Pierson. “We need to play more sound football. We just can’t turn the ball over five times like we did tonight. If we don’t make the stop on the goal line, no telling what happens.”
West Jones scored the first points of the game with a seven-play 69-yard drive that climaxed on a 2-yard run by running back Kentrell Pruitt. Senior quarterback Alan Follis connected with Marion Lindsey and Matthew Nixon for 21-yard gains during the drive to set up the score with 1:20 to play in the first half.
The Mustangs caught the War Eagles off guard with a successful onside kick following the game’s initial score to put their offense in business at the War Eagles’ 42-yard line. The War Eagles defense dug in and held off West Jones at the 7-yard line. Senior kicker Joseph Hernandez, who in the first quarter missed a 42-yard field goal attempt, made this 25-yarder with nine seconds to play in the half.
The Mustangs scored first in the second half as Antwoine Gavin tackled a War Eagle running back in the Wayne County end zone, upping the lead to 12-0.
Then things got a little interesting as Wayne County came back with a safety of their own to cut the lead to 12-2.
“The defense played another outstanding game for us,” said Gandy.
The War Eagles defense came up with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
Behind the running of Kelnevius Walley, Wayne County moved the ball to the Mustangs’ 5-yard line late in the third before the Mustangs’ defense stopped the threat only inches short of the goal line.
Four minutes later, Follis hit Cedric Bender on a post route for an 80-yard touchdown that ended the scoring for the night and gave West Jones an 18-2 lead with 8:45 to play in the game.
NEXT WEEK: West Jones will travel to Petal while Wayne County will go “Between the Bricks” in Laurel.
— Dale McKee