Dubbed the “Mini Egg Bowl,” Starkville beat Oxford 28-7 Friday night in the MHSAA Class 5A quarterfinals.
Starkville quarterback Gabe Myles scored on a pair of sneaks to start the scoring.
“It was a little frustrating, only because we knew we could do better,” Myles said. “We were hurting ourselves. At halftime, it was like, ‘Just come out and execute.’”
The Yellow Jackets will host West Point on Friday with a chance to get to Jackson for the second straight season.
Starkville (10-3) finished runner-up last season and beat Oxford on Friday night in the teams’ first meeting since 1980.
“If it could have gone wrong, it went wrong for us in the first half,” Starkville coach Jamie Mitchell said, “turnovers, penalties. I felt like if we could eliminate some mistakes, we’d do what we did in the second half. I didn’t know it would be that big and the defense, wow, what do you say?”
Starkville scored on its opening drive of the second half. The Jackets went 46 yards on four plays and scored on Myles’ 1-yard sneak.
It then drove 99 yards in nine plays behind Preston Baker’s 46-yard run to the goal line. Myles, a Mississippi State commitment, took it the remaining inches for his second touchdown.
Baker had 11 carries for 127 yards.
“They came out in the second half and whipped us,” Oxford coach Johnny Hill said.
On Oxford’s ensuing drive, Maleke Bell picked up Oxford quarterback Parker Adamson’s fumble, the Chargers’ third of four turnovers. Oxford held on fourth-and-2 and the Chargers (11-2) took advantage. Nick Brown caught a tipped pass to pick up 50 yards and Adamson hit Zach Cousar on a 30-yard score to pull within a touchdown after Cody Mills’ point after.
Adamson was 18 of 38 for 205 yards.
“We don’t think we’re ever out of a ballgame,” Hill said. “You play this game for four quarters. Starkville answered the bell and we didn’t in the second half.”
Starkville answered immediately with Baker’s 90-yard kick return for a 21-7 lead, Starkville’s first special teams touchdown of the season. Darius Grayer added a 15-yard touchdown run in the fourth.