Black Knights claw way past Cougars
A late touchdown pass pushed the Black Knights past their rivals from Lee Academy
Early in the fourth quarter with the score tied at six apiece, senior quarterback Parker Benson rolled out on a bootleg pass and connected with freshman Jacob Hatcher for what would be West Memphis Christian’s game-winning touchdown as the Black Knights (4-2) pulled out a 14-6 victory over their rivals at Lee Academy (22).
Following Benson’s touchdown pass, West Memphis Christian head coach Darrow Anderson faced a tough decision in which play to run for a crucial two-point conversion to ensure an eightpoint Black Knight lead late in the game.
Though the Black Knights had been moving the ball on the ground over the left side of the offensive line all night with success, Anderson admits that he questioned whether or not he could go back the well one last time for the important two-point play.
That play call was made easier, according to Anderson, by senior left tackle Biron Rossell.
“I was actually not going to run that play because we’d been doing it the whole drive,” Anderson said. “I thought they’d be expecting it… Then Biron looked at me and said, ‘Coach, we’re going to get it. Run the play. I promise you, we’ll get the twopoint conversion.’” And the Black Knights did get the two-point play to secure a one-possession advantage over the Cougars of Lee Academy.
After that, the game was in the hand of the Black Knights defense who held the Cougars out of the end zone despite Lee starting two different drives in the last five minutes of the game on the Black Knights side of the field, one inside West Memphis Christian’s own end zone.
“We actually fumbled the ball two times in the last five minutes,” Anderson said. “But, they bowed up and made plays. The biggest thing with them is that we felt like if we can stop the wishbone we can beat them and we did.”
Big plays for the Black Knights defense came throughout the game though, not just in the final quarter, evidence by an interception by Hayden Ellis on a Cougars screen play that ended a Lee Academy drive in the third quarter.
Rossell, who serves on the defensive as well as offensive line for the Black Knights, led West Memphis Christian in tackles with eight total stops, two tackling assists and one tackle for a loss. Along with the third quarter pick, Ellis totaled three solo tackles and three assists.
Also playing a big role for the Black Knights on defense were Mason Schidler and Patrick Ratliff who totaled six and five tackles, respectively.
In the end, Anderson says he used the Cougars own game plan to defeat his rivals on Lee’s homecoming night. Anderson thought going into the game that it would be the speed of the Black Knights going against the power run of the Cougars. But, Anderson and the Black Knights found their success going up the middle of the Lee defense and not to the outside like the head coach had previously thought.
“We lined up and we beat them at their own game, basically with a power read,” Anderson said.
Benson led the Black Knights rushing attack. On top of a four-for-seven passing performance that resulted in 67 yards and the fourth quarter touchdown, Benson also carried the ball 24 times for 115 yards.
A trio of other West Memphis Christian players contributed to the Black Knights ground game as well. Tyler Little totaled eight rushes for 51 yards and a touchdown and Thomas Warren hurled his way into the end zone once as well, carrying the ball seven times for 41 yards.
Malik Barrow was given three carries, as well, gaining 12 yards on the ground.
Little also hauled in a pass for 17 yards and Hunter Hicks received a Benson pass for 18 yards. But, it was the freshman Hatcher who led West Memphis Christian in receiving with two catches for 32 total yards and the go-ahead touchdown.
The Black Knights are now 168-6 during their current four-game winning streak. West Memphis Christian looks to carry that momentum with them as they travel this week to Potts Camp, Mississippi to battle the Potts Camp Cardinals (1-5).
Kickoff at Potts Camp this Friday is slated for 7:00 p.m.
By Collins Peeples