Blanks dominates in Knight's rout
By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
Nov. 10, 2001
FOREST – So much for tradition.
Consider two teams combining for 63 points and 520 yards and you'd think it was a pretty good offensive game.
Now consider that the bands were just getting ready to perform at halftime when those numbers were put up.
West Lauderdale scored 41 first half points to defeat Forest 55-22 Friday at L.O. Atkins Field in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs. The Knights, 7-4, will host Newton County, 11-0, in the second round next Friday. Forest finished 3-8.
Carlessio Blanks scored five touchdowns in the first half and had 289 all-purpose yards by intermission. The junior running back finished with six touchdowns and 362 all-purpose yards and didn't even play the final 19 minutes. For the game, he had 20 rushes for 251 yards and returned two kickoffs for 111 yards.
West led 41-22 at halftime.
The Knights went 53 yards on six plays to start the game with Blanks scoring on a 7-yard run. Will Moseley kicked the first of his seven extra points.
Two plays later, the Knights recovered a fumble at the Bearcat 29. Blanks ran the final 19 yards as West led 14-0 with 7:04 remaining in the first quarter.
Forest got to within 14-7 when quarterback Trey Clark kept on a 21-yard option with 5:14 left in the first period.
The Knights went 71 yards in six plays to reclaim a two-touchdown lead. West quarterback C. Jay Fountain scored on a 1-yard sneak after throwing a 39-yard pass to Moseley.
Clark kept Forest in the game when he raced 55 yards with 1:58 still showing in the first quarter. Julio Alvaree's PAT closed the gap to 21-14.
Blanks returned the ensuing kickoff 86 yards to the 3, then scored on the next play as West led 28-14 with 1:37 to go in the first quarter of the offensive slugfest.
West held Forest on a fake punt to start the second quarter and then drove 59 yards in eight plays for a 35-14 lead. Blanks got his fourth touchdown on a 16-yard run with 7:47 left in the first half.
Forest lost a fumble at its 38 late in the second quarter and one play later Blanks had his fifth touchdown on a 38-yard burst to put West up 41-14.
The Bearcats got to within 41-22 with 49.7 seconds left in the half on a 4-yard pass from Clark to Braxton Boone. Jacob Lee added a two-point conversion run.
The 55 points are the most that West has scored since at least 1979.
Moseley kept the Bearcats pinned after every touchdown in the first half as all six of his kickoffs landed in the end zone for touchbacks.
Forest finished with 422 total yards with 246 coming on 37 rushes and 176 coming on Clark's 13-of-26 showing through the air.
Forest threatened to start the second half, driving 60 yards to the West 20 only to have Clark throw four incompletions.
Three plays later, West led 48-22 on a 61-yard gallop for Blanks' sixth touchdown. Moseley's PAT made it 48-22.
Forest tried a lateral from its 12 only to have Michael Barnes recover near the goal line for a touchdown and a 55-22 lead with 7:13 still left in the third quarter.
West had 378 total yards with 292 coming on 39 rushes. Fountain was 5-of-8 passing for 86 yards.
Clark had 76 yards on five carries for Forest and passed for 176. Boone had seven receptions for 98 yards.
The Knights were making their first playoff appearance since 1984 and only the third in school history. For the playoff-veteran Bearcats, who won state championships in 1992, 1993, and 1999, it was their 14th trip to the playoffs and their ninth in the last 10 years.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 693-1551, ext. 3235.