After falling behind 20-7 in the fourth quarter, Oxford had momentum and marched into Starkville territory.
The Chargers got as far as the Yellow Jackets’ 3-yard line, but a penalty pushed them back to the 17. That’s when Starkville junior defensive lineman Nelson Jordan sacked quarterback Jack Abraham for a 10-yard loss to set up a fourth-and-goal situation from the 27.
“I took off after the ball out of my stance,” Jordan said. “When I turned the corner, dipped, and ripped. When I turned around and saw him (Abraham) still with the ball, I had to go get him.”
The Chargers tried a hook-and-ladder play and nearly scored, but Starkville senior wide receiver A.J. Brown tackled the receiver at the 1.
Starkville led 14-7 at the start of the fourth quarter, but it wanted more.
Montario Montgomery led a five-play, 90-yard drive that ended with an Avery Brown 2-yard touchdown that made it 20-7.
The big play was a 57-yard pass from Montgomery to senior wide receiver A.J. Brown that moved the ball to the Oxford 27.
“I knew he was going to get that,” Montgomery said. “If you have an A.J. Brown, you find ways to get him the ball — as many ways as possible.”
Starkville senior running back Avery Brown probably won’t get the recognition he deserves.
Overshadowed by other players who had really big games, Brown battled all night and kept Starkville’s offense humming, rushing for 110 yards on 30 carries and a touchdown. He also caught two passes for 37 yards and a touchdown.
“My night was great,” Brown said. “I told coach, ‘Trust me with the ball. I can make something happen.’ ”
Oxford looked poised to re-take the lead as soon as the second half started.
The Chargers moved to the Starkville 40, but senior wide receiver D.K. Metcalf fumbled and Tyler Moore recovered to give the Yellow Jackets the ball.
Starkville scored on the next drive and never looked back.
You’d be hard pressed to find a better player for Starkville in the first two weeks than A.J. Brown.
In a 26-20 double-overtime loss to Noxubee County last week, Brown had 14 catches for 147 yards and one touchdown.
He had an even better game against Oxford with a career-high 16 catches for 176 yards.
“He’s just big and physical,” Starkville defensive coordinator Brooks Oakley said. “They’re throwing the screen out here to A.J. and he’s breaking tackles. He’s just so strong and plays the ball in the air well.”
Ben Wait reports on Mississippi State University sports for The Dispatch.