Champions Crowned (Night 2)
5A State Championship
West Point 29
By the time the night cap had rolled around the rain had taken control of day 2. The field was holding up as best as it could, but as our guy Webb Lewis likes to say, this one was set up to be a slobber knocker. Fortunately for the West Point Green Wave, that is just the kind of game they wanted it to be. That allowed Scott Chambless to pound it with Marcus Murphy, the game’s MVP, on the ground, and also contain the high-powered Tornado offense.
Murphy, a Mississippi State commitment, was excellent, totalling 141 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Clayton Knight added his own flare in the passing game, as he tossed the first touchdown of the night to give West Point a 10-0 lead in the second quarter. Meanwhile Terrence Cherry made his case to be the game’s MVP, as well, sacking Laurel quarterback Tyquan Ulmer twice. The Green Wave’s three sacks, and relentless pass rush, were too much for Laurel.
With the win, West Point returns home with their eight state championship in school history.
4A State Championship
A tough playoff road certainly looks to have powered the Lafayette Commodores to their third state championship since 2009, but first since 2011. First year head coach Michael Fair has the Dores ready to go in their final game as a 4A team and now they walk away champs after a four-year drought. It was a special season for the program and now they get to celebrate back home as they defeated Poplarville 27-12 inside Davis-Wade stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The defense was the key, as they held the strong Hornets running game to just 89 yards in the first half. And when they tried to go to the air, the Dores really made them pay by forcing two turnovers. One pick, and one incredible interception(technically a fumble recovery) for score on a hook and lateral play by sophomore Brandon Turnage. In the second half, Lafayette held off a Hornet rally.
Will Ard was named MVP of the game after throwing just seven passes. He finished with six completions and the lone incompletion was an interception. However, Ard and the offense set the tone early with 77-yard touchdown toss to Mississippi State commit Tyler Williams on the opening drive. The Dores would never let go of the lead.
3A State Championship
Kemper County 12
The opening game of the day was unquestionably the most exciting contest. There was stout defense and big time plays on offense, but in the end the Kemper County Wildcats were just too much for the Charleston Tigers, who fell for a third straight season in this game.
Kemper County’s special combination of quarterback Eric Clark and DJ Clayton has been dominant all season, and again, it helped them get a favorable result. Clayton was named the MVP of the game as he finished with five catches for 229 yards and two scores. Clark was nine for 20 passing the football for 251 yards. Just by judging the numbers, it is easy to see who Clark’s favorite target was. The connection was strong on the first drive, but had to come back alive in the second half to give the Wildcats victory.
Tre Truly and the Tiger offense, in the end, just could not muster enough offense to win the football game. For Kemper County, this win is special, because it gives them a chance to bring home the golden ball for the first time in school history. They Wildcats were also the only team from the South to win this weekend, as the North dominated the 2016 state championship games.
**Photos by Keith Warren of the MHSAA.