CROSSVILLE, Ala. — In the words of Boobie Miles’ grandpa, “He can run, he can catch, and he can PASS!” Senior do-it-all Carter Thornton did what he has done all year long, make big plays all over the field in West Point’s 35-27 win at Crossville Friday night.
After a forcing a quick three-and-out, the Warriors opened up the away game against the 0-5 Crossville Lions with a little trickery. Thornton took the handoff from his QB and took off towards the right sideline, only to pull up and fire a deep ball to fellow senior Jacob Dye for a 65-yard touchdown pass, giving West Point an early 6-0 lead.
Following the one-play touchdown drive, the West Point defense recovered a fumble and the offense went right back to work, this time with a balanced 12 play, 58 yard drive ending with a 6-yard Branson Smith touchdown catch from senior QB Will Cochran. Cochran finished six for eight on the drive with 48 yards and a touchdown. Kelton Washington, who carried the ball six times on the drive for 29 yards, converted the two-point play on a 3-yard dash to the end zone to put the Warriors on top 14-0.
West Point, which has often fallen behind early in games only to claw back, found Crossville now in that same position. The Lions responded by getting a crucial first down on a fourth-and-8 play that eventually led to a 38-yard touchdown run. On the ensuing West Point drive Cochran made a big 8-yard run to pick up his own fourth-down conversion only to have the refs call a late fumble after he was down. For the second straight game officiating was a big factor- 17 penalties and several missed calls and turnovers. Ultimately, both teams would go on to trade turnovers as Thornton snagged a pick only to have Crossville intercept Cochran two plays later.
Once the dust settled after the turnovers, the Lions were able to put together a quick, six-play touchdown drive with all 43 yards being on the ground. With the game now at 14-12, the Warrior offense turned to ole reliable, Washington’s ground game. Washington would carry the ball five times for 47 yards on the drive and found the end zone to give West Point a 21-12 halftime lead.
West Point received the ball to start the third quarter and took its balanced attacked straight down the field behind Washington’s six carries and 27 yards. Cochran and Dye hooked up for a big 37-yard connection right before Washington scored his second touchdown of the night.
With West Point now up 28-12, Crossville went 73 yards in nine plays, again relying on fourth-down conversions, to cut the Warrior lead to 10 at 28-18.
Here is where the drama starts. The Lions got their second pick of the night after a defensive player tipped the ball to himself and returned it to the West Point 28. Eleven plays later, the Lions found themselves with third-and-goal at the 4-yard line. After nine straight run plays, they finally pulled the play action and had an open receiver about to haul in a huge touchdown. That was, until Thornton came zipping over and broke up the play that would have cut the lead down to only three points. This time on fourth down the Lions set up for a field goal and knocked it through it to make it a one possession games in the fourth quarter with the Warriors on top 28-21.
Washington would open the key drive up with a 41-yard dash that put West Point deep in Lion territory. Cochran would then provide the game sealing touchdown on a 2-yard run, on what would be their last offensive series of the game to ice the 35-27 victory.
Washington finished with 165 yards on 21 carries, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Cochran finished 10 of 14, 108 yards, a passing TD, a couple picks, and two touchdowns on the ground. Dye, looking to get back to 100% coming off an ankle injury, finished with four receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Coach Don Farley had this to say about the night: “When you’ve been through what these kids have been through it’s tough to get that monkey off your back, but I’m glad these kids came out and were able to get the win tonight.
Thornton, on being a Swiss Army Knife kind of player: “I just like to do whatever I can to help my team. I’m pumped to get this win tonight.”
Hoping to keep their playoff hopes alive, West Point will travel to take on (1-6) Sardis next week.
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