West Point tops Lafayette in Class 5A playoff outing

Hunter Cloud
Special to Daily Times Leader

Ryan Melton told his West Point Green Wave teammates what he was going to do with the football when he got the chance on kickoff returns on Friday night, and he kept his word.

“I told my teammates if they kick to me, I’m going to take it to the crib,” Melton said. “Green grass was all I saw. They kicked it, (and) I scooped it. I was patient and let them set up the blocks, and then I remembered green grass on the other side so I cut back and got around.”

Sometimes all it takes is a big special teams play as the Green Wave used a change of tide to take the lead late and beat Lafayette 27-20 in the Class 5A playoffs at home. 

“Any ball that goes to Ryan, we know he can run, and if we get any blocks upfront, he can loose and that is what he did,” West Point coach Chris Chambless said.

Offensively for the Green Wave, Brandon Harris rushed for over 100 yards and had three touchdowns. He even took several direct snaps in a formation known as the beast.

Harris said that it is called beast because it is specifically his. 

“Beast is the first name called," Harris said. "If you are going to see beast, you are going to see deuce. It is a blessing. It ain’t nothing but God. God was on our shoulders, and we got to come back ... come back harder.”

The field was very muddy, but Harris said the players did not mind that at all as they actually like conditions like that. 

“We like to get muddy, we like to get nasty, so this is our type of work, our type of game,” Harris said.

Lafayette struck first with a 10-yard run by quarterback Randy Anderson as he dashed up the middle and dove across the goal line. The adversity of being down did not affect West Point as it came out in search of an answer.

West Point did in fact find that answer as it was able to respond to the touchdown that Lafayette scored by getting a touchdown of its own with a 16-yard run by Harris.

Chambless said that Harris was ready to step up when his number was called.

“We know what Brandon can do for us," Chambless said. "All of our running backs, we know what they can do for us. We do a great job, and our kids do a great job when their number is called. (That's) to do their best to get the job done. They also do a good job of when someone else’s number is called.”

Lafayette methodically worked its way down the field and scored on a 1-yard run by Anderson as it took a 14-6 lead.

The Green Wave answered with a 1-yard run by Kameron Martin. Chambless said the ability to score early in the third quarter marked a momentum shift. 

“We scored coming out, and our offense, we knew there was going to get there for us,” Chambless said. “We tried to capitalize off of any big mistakes, and our defense has gone through so many ups and downs, and our offense has been steady.”

Anderson then found Drew Dabney on a 5-yard pass for a touchdown. The kick was blocked, but Lafayette lead West Point 20-12 with 4:58 in the third quarter.

That is when Ryan Melton took the ball to the 5-yard line of Lafayette, and then Harris scored a 6-yard run to make it 20-20. Harris said that at halftime the coaching staff put its trust in him and was going to get him the football.

“Before we left halftime, coach told me he was going to put the ball in my hands,” Harris said. “He told me lead this team, and he trusted me. We are just getting better and better as we go. We made a couple of mistakes, but we are going to fix them for next week.”

Melton said that he was disappointed that he was unable to score on his return though as he came just 5 yards short of reaching the end zone, which for a defensive player is a rare opportunity to score. 

“I was very disappointed,” Melton said. “It is everyone’s dream to be able to score, but especially on defense because we do not get that many opportunities to score. I was kind of disappointed, but then I realized I brought juice to the team." 

West Point took the lead with 11:20 to go in the game as Harris steamed up the middle for a 5-yard run and the extra point was good.

The game held all the drama till the final seconds as a pass in the end zone was deflected incomplete to end the game by Melton. 

“I was ready for them to throw it my way,” Melton said. “I knew they were going to try with it coming down to a big situation since it is their number one guy. When the play finally came I was able to knock it away for the victory. All I could do was smile and celebrate with my teammates.”

Harris watched it from the sideline, but described the feeling he had when he saw the pass fall incomplete as well as the excitement he has to be able to continue to play in the playoffs as West Point hosts Olive Branch on Nov. 23. 

“I felt good, he dropped it and we are going to go all the way,” Harris said. “I’m very excited, and I’m ready. We are going to pray, we are going to feast on this Thanksgiving, and we are going to come back even harder.”