West Memphis relied on a stout defensive effort to pull away in the second half for a 34-10 victory over Sylvan Hills on Friday night.
Despite allowing 126 yards rushing in the first half, West Memphis (6-0 overall, 3-0 6A-East) led 13-10 at halftime. That's when the Bears (1-5, 0-3) found the going much tougher, gaining just 28 total yards in the final two quarters.
"We had no focus going in," West Memphis Coach Billy Elmore said. "Normally, I'd say that was our fault, but I'd been telling people all week that Sylvan Hills was much better than people think. They played outstanding in the first half."
Still leading just 13-10 after three quarters, the Blue Devils finally found some breathing room when defensive lineman Allen Henry intercepted a Dionte Hutchinson pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown with 9:39 to play in the fourth quarter.
The interception gave West Memphis at least one interception in all six games this season. Henry's pick-six ignited the Blue Devils' offense as well.
After the Bears turned it over on downs on the ensuing possession, West Memphis senior running back Latavian Thomas burst through on first down for a 36-yard touchdown and a 34-10 lead.
The Blue Devils got on the scoreboard first with 1:41 to play in the first quarter on a 60-yard touchdown pass from Owens McConnell to Devin Olloway for a 7-0 lead.
Sylvan Hills sliced the lead to 7-3 when Tito Mendoza connected on a 29-yard field goal with 10:08 to play in the second quarter.
An Amaad Yancy interception set up Sylvan Hills to take its only lead of the game on a 1-yard touchdown by Nathaniel Floyd III.
Thomas' 2-yard touchdown with eight seconds left in the first half gave the visitors a 13-10 cushion at intermission.
Sports on 10/06/2018
Print Headline: W. Memphis defense steps up in 2nd half