HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The latest installment of the Oak Grove versus Petal rivalry featured a tale of two halves and what seemed like an infinite amount of turnovers. In the end, petal quarterback Anthony Alford amped an offense that produced 12 points in the first half to one that exploded for 42 in the second half, and the panthers beat the once undefeated Oak Grove Warriors 54-37 in Warrior Stadium.
Trailing 23-12 after half-time, the first panther drive of the second half started from their 5-yard line, but Alford first connected on a 50-yard pass play, then ran the remaining 40-plus yards himself to quickly cut the half-time deficit to 23-18.
After causing an Oak Grove three-and-out, Petal took over. Alford drove the offense down for another score, and just like that, the panthers held the lead 24-23. After that score, whatever control Oak Grove established in the first half they quickly lost.
The offense never re-established anything, and instead coughed the ball up on a number of occasions. The panthers capitalized on every turnover they caused, and outscored the home warriors 35-0 before allowing the first touchdown from Oak Grove in the second half. Overall, Petal outscored Oak Grove 42-14 in the second half of play.
Each team committed a turnover before the first points ever appeared on the board. On the first drive of the game, Alford completed a pass over the middle to junior receiver Jamarcus Revies, who then fumbled trying to gain more yards.
Oak Grove senior quarterback Steven Swindle drove his team to about the panther 10 yard line, but Petal defensive back Trevor Williams intercepted Swindle's pass and returned it to the warrior 5-yard line. From there, Alford took the snap, sprinted around the right edge and reached the endzone for the first score of the game. After an unsuccessful extra-point try, Petal lead 6-0.
Swindle and the warrior offense responded by driving all the way to the panther 1-yard line, capped off by a completed pass to sophomore wide out Picaso Nelson Jr. Senior running back Jordan Woods slipped through the line, across the endzone on the ensuing play to make it 7-6 warriors.
Alford's second touchdown of the night followed not long after to make it 12-7, but the warriors came back with a 50-plus yard catch and run from junior wide receiver Jonathan McNair. That score made it 14-12. From that point, it seemed the warriors would take control and never look back.
A Petal special teams blunder on a punt gave Oak Grove a safety and the ball, and the warriors capitalized with a 34-yard touchdown run from Woods. Going into the half, the scoreboard read 23-12 in favor of Oak Grove.
Instead of traveling to Meridian for yet another battle of unbeatens next week, Oak Grove must find a way to rebound, as Meridian is 6-0 after their win at Hattiesburg tonight. Petal next week will look to go above .500 for the first time this year when they host Brandon.
Petal improves to 3-3, while Oak Grove loses for the first time this year and falls to 5-1. More importantly, Oak Grove falls to 1-1 in divisional play, while Petal stays perfect at 2-0.