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Friday, October 31, 2014

BLOG: Yellowjackets sting Oxford in rivalry tussle

BLOG — The Little Egg Bowl turned into a big disappointment for Oxford on Friday night.

The high school version of the state’s rivalry matchup took center stage at Bobby Holcomb Field, but No. 3 Starkville quickly turned No. 2 Oxford’s home opener into a one-sided affair. The Yellowjackets (2-0) forced turnovers on Oxford’s first two possessions, turned them into 10 points and rode the momentum to a 52-29 victory, handing the Chargers (1-1) their first loss at home since November 2011.’

“I know there’s a lot of hype on this game, but to me, it’s a preseason game,” Oxford coach Johnny Hill said. “It’s about region play. That’s the reason you play these games is to get better. We got better tonight. We’re going to learn from this, and our kids are going to pick it up and work harder.”

Starkville scored the game’s first 24 points, shredding the Oxford defense through the air throughout the night. The Chargers were without cornerback K.T. McCollins, who’s nursing a knee injury, and the Yellowjackets took advantage as senior quarterback Brady Davis completed 20 of his 32 attempts for 411 yards and six touchdowns and an interception.

Starkville added 178 yards on the ground to finish with 589 total yards.

Senior wideout Raphael Leonard was Davis’ favorite target, hauling in seven balls for 168 yards. The 6-foot-3 Leonard had touchdown grabs of 15, 28 and 60 yards while A.J. Brown and tailbacks Matt Fuller and Jacquez Horsley each had receiving scores.

Oxford rolled up 516 yards of its own, but most of them came with Starkville already in control. Quarterback Jack Abraham, who went 26 of 44 for 345 yards with a touchdown and a pick, connected with wideout Kyree White for a 63-yard score to get the Chargers on the board with 3 minutes, 16 seconds before halftime, and the Chargers pulled off some trickery when Abraham threw backward to Dalton Markle, who then fired downfield to a wide-open White for a 43-yard score, to make it 31-14 midway through the third quarter.

But the Chargers never got any closer.

The Yellowjackets’ next two possessions ended with touchdown passes from Davis to Leonard to put Starkville up 45-14 and well on its way to a comfortable victory. Oxford running back Kenzie Phillips had a 3-yard touchdown run while sophomore quarterback Ben Bianco relieved Abraham late and scored on an 11-yard run.

Oxford will try to get back in the win column next Friday at Cleveland East Side.

See Monday’s edition of the EAGLE for complete coverage of Friday’s game. (August 30, 2014)

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