Oak Grove surges past Laurel, 36-18

High School Highlights: Oak Grove at Laurel

LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - Despite playing on an over-saturated football field that more resembled a bog than turf Friday night, Oak Grove High School continued to just roll right along.

Senior quarterback John Rhys Plumlee threw for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth as the Warriors toppled Laurel High School 36-18 “Between the Bricks” at Blair Stadium.

Oak Grove (3-0) piled up 419 yards total offense, with Plumlee throwing for 210 yards and rushing for 67 yards of the Warriors’ 210 yards on the ground.

“I was really proud of the guys, the way they played,” Oak Grove coach Drew Causey said. “To come out here in wet conditions on a soggy field and the way we executed, I couldn’t be more proud of our guys.”

For a second consecutive week, Laurel (1-2) found itself trying to play catch-up against one of the best offensive teams in Mississippi led by one of the state’s premier quarterbacks.

Last week, the Golden Tornadoes fell behind Hattiesburg High School and quarterback Jarod Conner by two scores and could never catch up in the Battle for The Lil’ Brown Jug.

“We haven’t been playing against (just somebody),” Laurel coach Todd Breland said. “You can’t make the mistakes that we have against teams like these.

“But we’re not going to stop. The kids won’t stop. We play hard. But it’s the little things that keep biting us.”

The Warriors grabbed a 15-0 lead after the first quarter. Plumlee, who was 5-of-5 for 62 yards, capped the first possession of the game with a 9-yard touchdown pass to junior Tavion Smith.

On the extra point, senior defensive lineman Jack Harris left his position as an edge blocker to take a lateral, rolled right and found senior tight end Rasaiah Ruffin for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 lead.

Two possessions later, the Warriors went 80 yards in nine plays to take a 15-0 lead. Plumlee hit 3-of-4 passes, with the incompletion an intentional throwaway, finishing off the drive with a 35-yard scoring strike to sophomore Jordan Coleman.

Laurel pulled within 15-6 three plays into the second quarter when senior quarterback Sinclair Ulmer found senior Jontarious Henderson over the middle. Henderson slipped the first tackle and then was off to the end zone, outrunning two defenders to complete a 65-yard play.

The teams spent the rest of the quarter squandering scoring chances.

The Golden Tornadoes recovered a fumble at the Oak Grove 41, but were forced to punt after losing eight yards on a quarterback sack and illegal procedure penalty. The Warriors drove to first-and-goal at the Laurel 9-yard line, but bad snap led to missed 27-yard field goal attempt.

Laurel then drove to the Oak Grove 22-yard line with 38 seconds left in the half, but eight snaps came up empty and the Warriors went to the locker room ahead by nine points.

Oak Grove seized control of the game in the third quarter.

On a fourth-and-4 at the Oak Grove 37-yard line, Harris stuffed junior running back Zias Perryman for a 4-yard loss.

The Warriors went 59 yards, converting a pair of fourth downs, with Laurel contributing to its own demise with a neutral-zone infraction on a fourth-and-3. Plumlee found Smith with an 18-yard touchdown pass to boost the lead to 22-6.

The lead became 29-6 less than two minutes later when a bad punt snap led to Harris corralling sophomore Bryce Page for a 25-yard loss at the Laurel 14-yard line. On the next snap, sophomore E.J. Newell slashed through the middle for the score.

“We got on the offensive line at halftime,” Causey said. “They were a little sloppy in the second quarter and on that first drive in the second half, and we challenged them.

“But after Jack got that turnover, the first play we score and they blocked tremendous there. They came together a little bit there and that’s what we needed. We’re going to count on those guys all year.”

Like an alternating current, Terrell and Perryman took turns carrying the ball downfield, with Terrell capping a 59-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to get Laurel within 29-12 to open the fourth quarter.

The teams traded touchdowns with Plumlee scoring on a 10-yard run to give Oak Grove a 36-12 lead before Perryman broke through the middle on a 36-yard scoring run for the game’s final score.

Perryman would finish with 132 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries and Terrell would add 53 yards and a score on 13 carries.

“Those are two of the best running backs I’ve seen in a while,” Causey said. “Very, very difficult to tackle. I’m glad we don’t play them again.”

Oak Grove’s ground game also was effective, particularly in the second half. Junior Nick Milsap ran for 93 yards on 22 carries and Newell finished with 46 yards and a touchdown on 46 carries.

Ulmer completed 13-of-24 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown. Henderson had two catches for 75 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game with an injury and senior Melyjah Windham had four catches for 35 yards.

Junior Liam Brethhaupt had 10 catches out of the slot for 75 yards, Ruffin pulled in four passes for 57 yards and Smith had three catches for 37 yards and two touchdowns.

Oak Grove will welcome Hattiesburg High School at 7 p.m. Friday in a battle of unbeatens. The Tigers (3-0) went on the road to take down Moss Point High School 48-13 Friday.

“Ought to be a fun game,” Causey said.

Laurel will head to Petal High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Panthers (0-3) dropped a 35-14 decision Friday to visiting Brother Martin High School of New Orleans.

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