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Oxford, Jefferson Davis County, Nanih Waiya claim MHSAA football championships

HATTIESBURG — A big second half beat a big second quarter in the MHSAA Class 6A football championship game.

Oxford quarterback John Meagher threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more — all in the second half — as the Chargers stormed back from an 18-point deficit to beat Oak Grove 31-21 on Friday night to win their first state championship.

Oxford outscored Oak Grove 28-0 in the second half, after giving up 21 straight points in the second quarter.

“The halftime talk wasn’t anything out of the ordinary,” Oxford coach Chris Cutcliffe said. “We just told them this is what we do. We don’t back down when we’re facing adversity. We just put up more steam and we keep going. And man, that’s what we did.”

Oak Grove (11-4) scored 21 points in the second quarter to take a 21-3 lead into halftime. Damon Stewart completed 14 of 28 passes for 239 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown to Tavion Smith that started the scoring surge.

Oxford rallied in the second half, however, putting the clamps on Oak Grove’s offense while kicking its own into gear.

Meagher threw a 62-yard TD pass to J.J. Pegues and then ran for a 23-yard score in the third quarter to cut it to 21-16. Then, with 4:52 left in the game, Meagher and Pegues hooked up again for a 21-yard touchdown pass that put the Chargers in front.

Pegues threw a two-point conversion pass to Clay Cromwell out of the wildcat formation to make it 24-21.

Meagher iced the victory with a 25-yard TD run with 2:25 remaining for a 31-21 lead.

Meagher finished with 152 rushing yards on 15 carries. He was 5-of-9 passing for 110 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Pegues, the game’s MVP, caught three passes for 107 yards and two TDs and added 34 rushing yards on eight carries.

Oxford (15-1) ended a decade of frustration with the victory. It made three consecutive trips to the Class 5A championship game without winning one from 2013-15, and finally broke through in Mississippi’s largest classification three years after moving up into it.

“It’s incredible. We got to halftime and everyone was real down. But that’s this team in a nutshell. Everyone fights for each other to the death. There’s absolutely no selfishness. We came out on fire. It took literally everyone to get this done,” Meagher said. “We all believe in each other no matter what. We knew we were going to come out and do this. … It damn well took all of us, but we did it.”

Oak Grove, meanwhile, continued its long history of finals frustration. Since the MHSAA expanded to six classifications in 2009, no team has gotten to the Class 6A championship game more than Oak Grove.

No team has lost it more often, either.

Oak Grove lost in the Class 6A championship game for the second year in a row, and fourth time in five appearances. It is 1-5 overall in state championship games, with the only victory coming in 2013.

Class 3A
Jefferson Davis County 25, Noxubee County 15

Keyser Booth ran for 188 yards and two touchdowns, and also caught a touchdown pass to lead Jefferson Davis County to a 25-15 victory over Noxubee County in the MHSAA Class 3A championship game on Friday.

Booth was the game’s MVP. He caught a 36-yard touchdown pass from Lyric Hall midway through the first quarter, then ripped off an 80-yard TD run on Jefferson Davis’ next possession to give the Jaguars a 14-0 lead.

Booth added a 42-yard TD run with 2:44 left in the fourth quarter to put Jefferson Davis County ahead 25-7.

Marlon Windham completed 18 of 43 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns, and added 128 rushing yards for Noxubee County (10-6). Jaqualon Sherrod caught 10 passes for 118 yards.

Noxubee County lost for just the second time in seven championship game appearances since 2007. It won three Class 4A titles from 2014-17.

Deandre Shorts finished with 93 rushing yards and one touchdown on only nine carries for Jefferson Davis County (10-6).

Jefferson Davis County, which opened in 2017, won its second Class 3A championship in three years.

Class 1A
Nanih Waiya 28, Lumberton 13

Nanih Waiya quarterback Donovan Turner rushed for 192 yards and threw for 68 yards and a touchdown to lead the Warriors past Lumberton 28-13 in the MHSAA Class 1A championship game.

Nanih Waiya (14-2) won its second consecutive state title in its third straight trip to the championship game. It won 14 games in a row this season after dropping its first two, and is 44-4 over the past three years.

Nanih Waiya rushed for 371 yards against Lumberton (12-4). Shia Moore added 125 yards and two touchdowns to Turner’s nearly 200 yards, and also had an interception on defense.

The Warriors scored 28 straight points after Lumberton scored on the game’s first play from scrimmage, on a 50-yard touchdown run by Robert Henry.

Nanih Waiya outgained Lumberton 429 yards to 204. Henry finished with 22 carries for 145 yards and a touchdown for Lumberton, and was 7-of-13 passing for 50 yards.

MHSAA championship games
All games at Southern Miss
Dec. 6

Class 3A – Jefferson Davis County 25, Noxubee County 15
Class 1A – Nanih Waiya 28, Lumberton 13
Class 6A – Oxford 31, Oak Grove 21
Dec. 7
Class 4A – Corinth (13-1) vs. Poplarville (9-5), 11 a.m.
Class 2A – North Side (14-0) vs. Taylorsville (14-1), 3 p.m.
Class 5A – West Point (14-1) vs. Picayune (14-0), 7 p.m.