HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - For most of Friday night at Warrior Field, Petal High School stuck with an offensive game plan that appeared to be plucked straight from the 1970s.
Senior Micah McGowan rushed for 212 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries as the Panthers pounded out a weather-delayed, 21-7 Region 3-6A victory over archrival Oak Grove High School.
“Big holes,” said McGowan, who ripped off three runs of 30-plus yards. “They were there all the time. I just had to hit the holes at 90 miles an hour like Coach said.”
While McGowan did the bulk of his work between the tackles, Petal (5-1, 2-0 region) scored its other two touchdowns on change-up runs off the edge: A nifty, 21-yard quarterback keeper off the right side by senior DeCarlos Nicholson in the first quarter and a 19-yard end around the left side by junior Cam’ron Martin in the third.
McGowan closed the door late in the third quarter
“We challenged our guys at halftime that if we’re going to win this ballgame, we’re going to have to run the football, and I thought we really established the line of scrimmage in the second half,” Petal coach Marcus Boyles said.
“Micah, he’s playing extremely hard for us. The offensive line is opening big holes, but he’s getting a lot of yards after contact also.”
For Oak Grove (3-3, 0—2) it was a third consecutive, tough loss and third loss in four years to its long-time rivals.
The teams stood tied 7-7 after drives powered by each team’s running game on each team’s opening possession.
Nicholson capped a six-play, 65-yard drive with his jaunt around the end, while Oak Grove senior running back Nick Milsap carried 10 times for 56 yards on a 12-play, 65-yard drive capped by his 2-yard touchdown run.
The two possessions gobbled up all but 1:41 of the first quarter.
With 6:44 left in the second period, officials called a weather delay, and moments later, the stadium was lashed by a relatively brief but fierce thunderstorm, whose accompanying lightning display kept the teams in their locker rooms for the next two hours plus.
The teams remained knotted 7-7 at halftime, with Oak Grove losing a fumble at the Petal 31-yard line to ruin the best opportunity for either team in the second quarter.
When the second half kicked off, Petal took over, with McGowan powering a ground game that not only moved the chains but ate away the game clock as well.
The Warriors had one of their starting offensive linemen ejected after a personal foul penalty, and Oak Grove’s running game never got back in synch.
Milsap would finish with 97 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.
“We didn’t execute in the second half,” Oak Grove Drew Causey said. “The turnovers, we’re driving looking like we’re going to score and we (fumble), then we have two interceptions in the second half.
“When you’re playing a good team, you can’t turn the ball over.”
Petal senior free safety Tyler Dailey came up with both interception of Oak Grove senior quarterback Damon Stewart. The first came on the opening drive of the second half, the second ended a fourth-quarter drive that had reached midfield.
“Our defense did a great job because they’ve got some really good football players over there at Oak Grove,” Boyles said. “Defense did a really, really good job.”
The Panthers will host Brandon High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Bulldogs (5-2, 2-0) beat George County High School 29-6 Friday night.
Oak Grove will visit Meridian High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Wildcats (1-6, 0-2) dropped a 62-0 decision to Pearl High School Friday.