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Mississippi Friday Night Rewind: No. 8 Brandon beats No. 1 Oak Grove

The Bulldogs ran their winning streak to four games and posted their biggest dub of the season

The eighth-ranked Brandon Bulldogs had heard all the criticism after stumbling out of the gate to an 0-2 start.

And despite reeling off four-straight wins, nobody was talking about the Bulldogs as serious contenders in the MHSAA’s Class 7A South.

After Friday night’s 38-20 road win over top-ranked Oak Grove, the reigning South State Champs are certainly back in the conversation.

“This is super satisfying,” an elated Brandon coach Sam Williams said. “That was a long couple of weeks at the start of the season. When you have such high expectations for your team and the community has such high expectations for you, it puts a lot of pressure on you. But we kept chipping away, kept believing the things we were doing were going to work, and I couldn’t be any prouder of the way we played tonight.”

MORE: SBLive Mississippi full Friday night scoreboard

The first six minutes of Friday night’s game was more of an ambush than an opening salvo.

The Bulldogs started fast, with a 69-yard touchdown pass from Landon Varnes to freshman Tyson Robinson on a flea-flicker on the first play from scrimmage.

After recovering an on-side kick, the Bulldogs tacked on three more points on a 51-yard field goal from senior Connor Mullins.

After the defense forced a punt, the Bulldog offense marched 61 yards in seven plays, taking a 17-0 lead on a two-yard touchdown run from Nate Blount.

“We knew we had to start fast tonight,” Brandon receiver Quincy Phillips said. “We always try to stay aggressive early in the game, and we did what we had to do to set the tone.”

Oak Grove (6-1) got on the board with 6:31 left in the second quarter, when all-everything quarterback Anthony Maddox tossed a two-yard touchdown pass to Timothy Walters to cap an 11-play, 63-yard drive.

Oak Grove got the ball back with 3:44 left in the first half and drove to midfield before Brandon senior linebacker Khalil Norwood jumped a short curl route, intercepted Maddox’s pass and went 52 yards the other way for a pick-six to give the Bulldogs a 24-7 lead at the midway point.

Oak Grove scored two quick touchdowns to start the second half and cut the Brandon lead to 24-21, but the Bulldogs scored the final 14 points while the defense held Oak Grove to two punts and a turnover on downs on the Warriors’ final three possessions.

“We spotted a really good football team 17 points in the first quarter,” Oak Grove coach Drew Causey said. “We didn’t execute the way we needed to, and they took advantage of our mistakes.”

The win moved Brandon to 2-0 in Region 3 and — combined with Meridian’s 38-31 upset victory over No. 7 Northwest Rankin Friday night — gives Brandon sole possession of first place.

The Bulldogs will head to Pearl next week for the “Eat Dirt” rivalry game against the 10th-ranked Pirates (6-1), who defeated the Petal Panthers 40-21 Friday night.

The best of the rest

It was a mixed bag for the rest of the teams that make up the SBLive Mississippi Power 10 in Week 9.

Second-ranked Louisville beat Caledonia 55-7 to move to 8-0, making their case to be the new No. 1 when the new rankings release Monday morning.

Here’s how the rest of the Top 10 fared:

  • No. 3 Ocean Springs (6-1) ran its winning streak to six games with a 49-13 win over Harrison Central.
  • No. 4 Starkville (5-2) erased the sting of a loss last week with a 60-21 win over Region 2-7A foe Clinton to move to 1-1 in Region 2-7A.
  • No. 5 West Point (4-3) lost 27-20 to a very good Clarksdale team Thursday night to drop to 1-1 in Region 1-5A.
  • No. 6 Tupelo (6-2) didn’t take Germantown lightly after the Mavericks knocked off Starkville the week before. They won 42-3 in a game that was every bit as one-sided as it sounds.
  • No. 9 Picayune (5-2) cruised past West Harrison 35-7 to move to 2-0 in Region 4-6A.