Warriors clinch playoff spot with win against Northwest RankinBy DEANA SMITH,
With the playoffs on the line on Senior night, Oak Grove Coach Drew Causey’s Warriors made a loud statement as they clinched their spot with a 38-21 victory over visiting Northwest Rankin.
The Warriors (8-3, 5-2) put on a scoring clinic against the Cougars (3-8, 3-4) by throwing up points in each quarter.
The Warriors jumped out to a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter on a seven-yard quarterback keeper from senior Damon Stewart, but the Cougars responded quickly on an 84-yard touchdown pass to tie things up.
With less than a minute to go in the first quarter, junior Michael Owens booted an impressive 39-yard field goal to give the Warriors a 10-7 lead to end the first quarter.
After Northwest Rankin failed to get any momentum, Oak Grove took over on their own 42 yard line with 11 minutes left in the first half and a minute later, Stewart heaved a 60-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Dontavious Howard. An extra point by Owens gave Oak Grove a 17-7 lead.
Northwest Rankin scored again before the half to make it 14-17 before the teams headed into the locker room to warm up.
In the second half of play, the Warriors dominated on all fronts to wrap up a 38-21 win.
Looking back on the Warriors season – specifically its 0-2 start, Causey said he knew the Warriors had their work cut out for them.
“We got out of our way a little bit at the beginning of the season,” he said. “From there, the Coaches and I got some seniors together – the guys who we know are key leaders on the team – and told them we needed them to step up even more to help lead this team. And that’s what happened.”
With Friday’s win, the Warriors get to host Ocean Springs (5-6, 4-3) next week in the first round of 6A state playoffs. The Greyhounds, which ended their regular season with a 21-16 road loss to Harrison Central, also began their season with an 0-2 start.
Unlike the Warriors, which have won the last five games, Ocean Springs has lost two in a row.