PREP FOOTBALL: Warriors fall at no. 5 Guntersville, 59-28

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West Point dropped its region matchup 59-28 at Guntersville Friday night. (Chris Pugh for The Cullman Tribune)

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – The Warriors traveled to Guntersville Friday night to face the undefeated Wildcats. Despite falling behind 28-0 early in the second quarter, West Point was outscored by just 3 points the rest of the way; however, the Warriors were unable to overcome the early lead and the Wildcats came out on top, 59-28.

Guntersville, a game away from the school’s fourth ever undefeated season, came out guns blazing with its high-powered offense. The Wildcats scored touchdowns on their first eight possessions, but after their fourth touchdown of the night, West Point’s offense got going. 

Down 28-0, West Point put together a 15-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a 12-yard Kobe Bowers touchdown reception on fourth-and-10. Bowers finished the drive with 21 yards on four receptions. 

Guntersville responded with a 75-yard kickoff return that was downed at the West Point 5, taking the air out of any building momentum. A couple touchdowns later West Point found themselves down 42-7 at half. 

That was when West Point found itself in the middle of a teachable moment with two options: give up, or, in the words of Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, “BYOG. Bring your own guts.”

The Warriors chose the latter.

They came out after the half and put together another long drive, this time 11 plays and 76 yards. Senior quarterback Will Cochran totaled 52 yards on the drive, and junior Kelton Washington capped it off with a 2-yard touchdown run, 2 of his 21 yards on the drive. 

Guntersville went on to score a couple more touchdowns and a field goal, making it 59-14 early in the fourth before Cochran and Washington led the Warriors 69 yards capped off by a 7-yard Cochran touchdown. 

With Guntersville driving, West Point may have found another running back to add for the playoffs: defensive lineman Kenyan Baker. For the second week in a row, Baker returned a turnover for 6. This time, he stripped the Wildcat running back, broke a tackle and sprinted 58 yards for the touchdown. Baker with the ball in his hands resembles former Crimson Tide defensive lineman, Marcell Dareus, whose touchdown return in the 2009 BCS National Championship went down in Alabama history. Point is, the big man is quite the athlete and a playmaker for this Warrior defense. 

With less than two minutes to go, the Wildcats fumbled, and West Point’s Aiden Dujoud recovered the ball. Senior receiver Jacob Dye collected 71 yards and two catches before time expired. 

Cochran finished with 261 total yards, 2 touchdowns and a pick. Washington added 91 total yards and a touchdown. The receiving core of Bowers, Dye, Branson Smith and Carter Thornton all added tough catches totaling 176 yards for the night against a talented Guntersville secondary. 

With a COVID-19-related forfeit by Curry next week, West Point hopes to find one last opponent for a home game before the playoffs begin.  Undefeated Alexandria awaits the Warriors in two weeks.

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