For the first time this football season, Oak Gove High School found itself on the short end of a scoreboard Friday night.
That lasted for about 5 ½ minutes.
Junior quarterback Jon Rhys Plumlee rushed for three touchdowns and senior running back Orlando Simon ran for 179 yards and a score on 20 carries as the Warriors stormed back for 42-12 victory over visiting Laurel High School.
The Warriors trailed 6-0 after sophomore quarterback Xavier Evans found senior Kobie Ulmer with a 45-yard touchdown pass on Laurel’s first offensive play of the game. The score was set up when Plumlee was intercepted for the first time all season by Laurel senior free safety Quendarious Robertson on Oak Grove’s initial possession of the game.
But Plumlee scored on a 6-yard run to cap a 58-yard drive with 3:54 left in the first quarter to take a 7-6 lead, and the Warriors never looked back.
“We didn’t start out real good, penalties and then the turnover,” Oak Grove coach Drew Causey said. “Really thought we played sloppy for a lot of the game. But we did enough to move the ball after the slow start with the interception and then punted the ball next series.
“That was really the first adversity we had all season, and it was great to see how the guys responded and just fought through it.”
Oak Grove (3-0) rushed for 248 yards and scored all six of its touchdowns on the ground. The Warriors have scored at least 42 points in all three of their games and have outscored their opponents 129-22 this season.
“I said all week that they’re one of the best in Mississippi, and it’s true,” Laurel coach Todd Breland said. “They’re very good.
“We continue to fight, but we keep making those little mistakes and get behind the chains and we can’t afford to do that.”
Oak Grove scored twice in the second quarter for a 21-6 halftime lead.
Hayes Maples scored on a 4-yard run with 4:05 left in the second quarter for a 14-6 lead. Then, after getting the ball back with 1:25 left in the half at the Laurel 27-yard line following a bad punt snap, Plumlee scored on a 10-yard run, vaulting over players at the front corner of the end zone with six seconds left in the quarter.
“He’s just such a great athlete,” Breland said.
Laurel (1-2) opened the second half with an 81-yard drive that junior running back Zias Perryman finished off with a 34-yard bolt up the middle to cut oak Grove’s lead to 21-12
Perryman finished with 107 yards rushing on 16 carries.
But the Warriors answered immediately, with Simon busting loose on a 65-yard scoring run to boost the lead back to 28-12.
“(Simon) had a long run for a touchdown there, and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the second half for us on both sides of the ball,” Causey said. “He’s pretty dang good. Very impressed with the way he ran the ball for his second game of the season. He’s only going to get better once he gets his legs under him. The O-line did a great job (Friday) night.”
Junior defensive end Jack Harper, who carried three times for 25 yards in the Warriors’ “jumbo” package, scored on a 1-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter, and Plumlee capped the scoring with a 24-yard run with 6:18 to play.
Plumlee finished 11 of 16 for 110 yards, with senior Kevin Barnett hauling in six catches for 79 yards, including a 29-yard, juggling catch at the 1-yard line that he caught on his back to set up Harris’ score.
Plumlee also ran for 66 yards on nine carries.
Evans was knocked out of the game in the third quarter on hard hit, with junior Sinclair Ulmer taking his place. The Golden Tornadoes finished with 192 yards total offense, with 107 yards coming on the ground.
“We’ll evaluate (Evans) and see where we’re at, but Sinclair’s very capable of coming in and doing a good job.”
Oak Grove will travel to Hattiesburg High School (3-0) at 7 p.m. Friday in cross-city showdown.
“It’s a fun game,” Causey said. “Both communities, no matter where the game is played, it’s going to be packed. Everybody’s excited about it. They’re a great team and Coach (Tony) Vance does a great job, so it’s going to be a huge challenge, especially going there and with all the talent they’ve got.”
Class 5A Laurel will host Petal High School (1-1) at 7 p.m. Friday, wrapping up a three-game, non-region stretch that featured archrival Hattiesburg and Class 6A foes Oak Grove and Petal.
“This bunch, they understand what we’re doing and they understand the process and the teams we are playing,” Breland said. “We’re going to be ready when the time comes (for region play), I promise.”