The Oak Grove Warriors relied on a big second half to defeat Harrison Central 45-14 in the team’s first matchup in the Class 6A playoffs.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” Oak Grove coach Drew Causey said. “[We] started off kind of slow offensively, I think some first game playoff jitters, but we did a great job in the second half.”
Oak Grove quickly turned the ball over to Harrison Central on the first drive of the game, as running back Nick Millsap fumbled on the second play from scrimmage. But the Oak Grove defense forced a three-and-out on the subsequent drive and kicked a field goal to go up 3-0 in the first quarter.
After back-to-back punts by both teams, Oak Grove got on the board once again in the second quarter. Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee led the team on an eight-play drive that culminated in a 3-yard touchdown run from Plumlee near the right pylon of the end zone. The following two-point conversion attempt failed, so Oak Grove extended its lead to 9-0.
Harrison Central’s first three drives ended with punts, but the Red Rebels earned their first points of the game on the possession following Plumlee’s score. Quarterback Dayln Anderson connected with wide receiver Brandon Smith for a 46-yard touchdown pass, cutting the Oak Grove lead to 9-7.
Oak Grove scored again following the Harrison Central touchdown. Jarius Smith, who made his second appearance of the season against Harrison Central, scored from two yards out to make it a 16-7 game in favor of Oak Grove heading into halftime.
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In the second half, Harrison Central cut into the Oak Grove lead once again. Anderson and Smith connected on a 66-yard touchdown pass on the first drive of the third quarter to make it a 16-14 ball game.
But the touchdown proved to be the final points Harrison Central scored in the contest.
Plumlee added a scoring run and two touchdown passes on the Warriors’ next three possessions, giving them a 37-14 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
The Oak Grove defense sealed the win in the fourth. Defensive back Ben Johnson intercepted Anderson and returned the pick 35 yards for a touchdown with 8:56 left to play. On Harrison Central’s following drive, Oak Grove recovered a fumble near its own 5-yard line, sealing the 45-14 win.
With the win, Oak Grove will host Petal next week in the second round of the playoffs. Petal blanked Gulfport 34-0 in its first-round matchup on Friday.
This will be the second time the two teams have played each other this season. Oak Grove came away with a 26-19 road win at Petal on Sept. 28 in a game that was decided in the final seconds of the contest.
Even as Oak Grove is set to face its cross-town rival for the second time this season in a win-or-go-home matchup, Plumlee said it’ll be business as usual for the Warriors as they prepare for round two with the Panthers.
“It’s going to be a really fun game,” Plumlee said. “I think they have been absolutely getting better. We’re just going to have to treat it like every other game, work hard starting on Sunday and every other day of the week until game day.”
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