By Brandon Speck
OXFORD – Starkville was happy to run all over the new artificial turf Friday at Bobby Holcomb Field.
But it was Oxford’s new digs and Starkville gave the Chargers nothing to cheer about. The Yellow Jackets beat Oxford 52-29 in a matchup of the state’s No. 2 and 3 teams.
“I don’t mean to be boastful, but I mean, we expect to be in these kind of games,” Starkville coach Jamie Mitchell said.
No. 3 Starkville turned a pair of first-quarter turnovers – one after Kenzie Phillips fumbled at the 3, into 10 points – and quarterback Brady Davis threw for 411 yards on 21-of-32 passing and six touchdowns.
After Michael Godley’s 47-yard field goal, Davis threw touchdown passes to Matt Fuller (56), Raphael Leonard (28) and A.J. Brown (30) before Oxford’s first score.
Oxford quarterback Jack Abraham threw for 305 yards and a touchdown on 22-of-37 passing. The Chargers missed a field goal and dropped a touchdown.
“We didn’t score with them. They’ve got a good football team,” Oxford coach Johnny Hill said. “We knew that.”
Turning Point: After Oxford scored on Kenzie Phillips’ 63-yard catch in the second quarter, Starkville’s Jacquez Horsley scored on a 37-yard screen pass. He fought off a tackle by holding himself up with his right hand and doing a childlike sideways cartwheel as Marcel Pegues dove right over the top of him and ran to a 31-7 lead.
Point Man: Starkville senior Raphael Leonard caught seven passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns.
Talking Point: After Leonard scored his third touchdown, the senior did a bit of a Salsa in the end zone. No flag irritated Johnny Hill, who did his own version for a trio of officials. Leonard won’t likely be doing another jig.
“No sir, my coach got onto me,” Leonard said, then smiled.
• Oxford had pregame prayer over the PA for the loved ones of Jackson Prep’s Walker Wilbanks, who died after leaving last week’s game between Oxford and Prep.
• Starkville kicker Michael Godley delivered touchbacks on 7 of his 8 kickoffs.
• Starkville’s first punt came with 2:06 left in the game.