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Oak Grove Warriors win 49-45 thriller over Brandon to reach MHSAA 7A Championship

The Warriors are back in the title game for the fourth time in six seasons

BRANDON — For the fourth time in the last six seasons Oak Grove is heading to the state championship.

Behind the stellar play of quarterback A.J. Maddox and receiver P.J. Woodland the Warriors outlasted Brandon 49-45 in a thriller to claim the MHSAA Class 7A South State Championship at Bulldog Stadium on Friday night.

Oak Grove (12-1) will face defending champion Starkville for the Class 7A State Championship next Saturday night at Ole Miss’ Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at 7 p.m.

“Proud of our kids and coaches for staying resilient all night," Oak Grove coach Drew Causey said. "It was a dog fight all game long and A.J. proved that he’s the best quarterback in the state. We never panicked, and the guys fought hard all night.”

It took Oak Grove just three plays to take an early 7-0 lead as Maddox scored on a 40-yard run with 11:03 left in the first quarter.

The Warriors extended their lead to 14-0 as Maddox hit Tajii Burkett on a 12-yard touchdown pass with 9:04 left.

Brandon cut the lead to 14-7 on a 77-yard touchdown run by Tyson Robinson with 11:40 left in the second quarter.

Oak Grove responded as Maddox found Woodland on a 48-yard touchdown pass to extend their lead to 21-7 with 9:25 left in the second quarter.

The Bulldogs answered as Landon Varnes hit Jay McQueen on a 28-yard touchdown pass to cut the Warrior lead to 21-14 with 8:16 left.

Oak Grove responded as Kylin Champagne scored on a 2-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 28-14 with 3:24 left in the second quarter.

In the third quarter Brandon outscored Oak Grove 17-7 to cut the Warrior lead to 35-31. Connor Mullins connected on a 25-yard field on the opening drive of the second half, and Blount had two rushing touchdowns from 4 and 20 yards out.

Champagne scored on a 1-yard run for Oak Grove in the third quarter.

On the second play of the fourth quarter Maddox scampered into the end zone from 10 yards out to extend the Warrior lead to 42-31 with 11:18 left.

Brandon answered as Quincy Phillips scored on a 19-yard run with 9:37 remaining to cut Oak Grove’s lead to 42-38.

After the Bulldogs blocked a punt, Blount scored on a 3-yard run to give Brandon a 45-42 lead with 8:07 left.

Oak Grove responded as the Warriors went 80 yards in 10 plays to take the 49-45 lead that was capped off by a Maddox 1-yard touchdown run with 3:54 remaining.

Maddox finished the night 22-of-37 passing for 353 yards with two touchdowns and added 83 yards rushing on nine carries with three touchdowns to lead Oak Grove.

On the Bulldogs final drive facing a 4th-and-2 Blount was stopped a yard short from the line to gain at the Oak Grove 41-yard line.

“We have the comradery and the brotherhood that can be unbroken, and we found a way to get the win,” Maddox said. “We came out and executed on offense tonight. All the receivers made big plays tonight and P.J. is a great player and made some big plays. Excited to play for the first 7A state championship game and it’s going to be a battle.”

Woodland had 178 yards receiving on 10 catches for Oak Grove. Champagne added 134 yards rushing on 22 carries with two touchdowns.

“It’s great to come here and win because it’s a tough place play and Brandon has a great team,” Causey said. “It’s a team effort tonight. We had guys playing both ways and it’s a special of guys that find ways to win. Playing Starkville next week is going to be a lot of fun.”

Robinson had 241 yards rushing and a touchdown on 13 carries to lead Brandon. Blount added 125 yards rushing on 17 carries with 3 touchdowns for the Bulldogs, while Varnes added 134 yards passing. Brandon did rush for 413 yards total.

“Felt like the state championship game from two years ago and had to fight from behind all night," Brandon coach Sam Williams said. "Proud of the kids for fighting all night, fought back to take the lead and we ran the ball well. I wasn’t giving the ball to anybody else but Nate on the last play and just came up an inch short. Proud of this group of seniors, this was the best class in Brandon history for football.”