By Gene Phelps
JACKSON – Oak Grove, frustrated all night by Tupelo’s smothering defense, resorted to trickery Friday to capture the MHSAA Class 6A state football championship.
The Warriors, 14-7 winners against the Golden Wave on a bitter cold evening at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium, scored their eventual game-winning touchdown on a fake field goal that saw holder/quarterback Kirk McCarty pass 4 yards to a wide-open tight end Logan Scott.
Tupelo coaches in the press box claimed Scott was in motion prior to the play, but no call was made.
“We didn’t see anything and that’s why we didn’t cover it,” Tupelo coach Trent Hammond said.
The score capped an 89-yard, 11-play drive and came with six seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Tupelo (13-2) had tied the score at 7-7 with 5:58 left in the third quarter on a 4-yard run by Quinn Tiggs. Early in the 62-yard march, Tiggs threw a 30-yard pass to quarterback Daniel Bristow.
Oak Grove (14-1), with Brett Farve as its offensive coordinator, ended a scoreless game on its first possession of the second half when McCarty connected with Cameron Myers on a 5-yard pass.
“You come in wanting the other trophy, but only one team can get it,” Hammond said. “It’s been a heckuva ride. In a little while we can look back and think it was a great year.”
Tupelo’s best first-half scoring opportunity came late in the first quarter, but a pass interception at the Oak Grove 4-yard line by Trey Sloan ended the threat.
Wave receiver Jarvis Wilson’s 58-yard pass reception got the ball in Oak Grove territory at the 34. Wilson, who got open down field after a faked bubble screen, slowed down briefly after catching the ball, which allowed the Warriors to tackle him.
Tupelo managed 91 yards total offense in the first half, including 59 passing on two completions.
Oak Grove was held scoreless for the first time this season in the first half by Tupelo’s defense.
The Warriors reached the Wave 10-yard line on their second possession, but turned the ball over on downs after consecutive high snaps to McCarty.
Oak Grove reached the Tupelo 36 late in the second quarter, but saw a fourth-and-2 pass from McCarty broken up by Antonio Clifton.
On the Warriors’ previous play, Clifton stopped a potential big gain by receiver Jordan Mitchell with a one-on-one open-field tackle.
Oak Grove finished with 327 yards total offense, 268 through the air.