• John Macon Gillespie

GotW | W2: Coverage Recap

At the end of the night, two of the town’s most coveted hardware remained in Starkville. The SES Mississippi Week 2 Game of the Week lived up to all the hype, at least in the second half.

The home standing Starkville Yellowjackets defended their turf by defeating the Oxford Chargers in a 28-21 overtime thriller to win the fifth annual Little Egg Bowl game. This was the fourth straight win in the young series. It wasn't easy like last week for Starkville.

It was talked about throughout the week how stout the Yellowjackets were on defense.They showed it on their first drive and throughout the first half. The Chargers had a three-and-out possession in a blink of an eye on their first offensive possession.

Starkville’s offense came out of the gates rolling. They made it look too easy against a strong Charger defense. Starkville stretched Oxford sideline to sideline with passes out in the flat and runs to the outside. About six plays later, Rodrigues Clark finished the drive rumbling for a 15 yard touchdown run. Just like that, Starkville had a 7-0 lead on Oxford with 9:17 left in the first quarter.

The Chargers could not get anything going offensively early in the game. The Jackets were plugging everything up on the line of scrimmage. Hiram Wadlington was being stuffed time after time, John Reece McClure had a hard time of getting the ball to his receivers, and the offensive line had no answer for Starkville’s front seven. The Jackets were still moving the ball at will, but they couldn't finish the job in the first half. The Chargers recovered Starkville fumbles on back to back possessions. Their offense, however, couldn't capitalize.

Late in the first half, the Chargers found themselves in the shadow of their own goal post. Hiram Wadlington ran over a Jacket defensive back and ran all the way to Starkville’s 35 yard line, only to have a Starkville interception on the very next play. Natrone Brooks stepped in front of McClure’s pass to end Oxford’s most promising drive of the game at that point. Oxford was starting to figure out how to contain Malik Brown and stop that Jacket running attack. It looked as if the Chargers stopped the bleeding going in the locker room. Not so fast. Brown threw up a hail mary and the ball fell right into the hands of the sophomore standout Rufus Harvey in the end zone on the very last play of the first half.

Starkville led at the break 14-0. For most teams, having a touchdown of that sort scored on them would break their back essentially. Not Oxford, they didn't blink.

Starkville’s offensive disasters continued with another fumble, their third of the game. The Chargers recovered and were determined to get themselves back in the game. They moved the ball consistently well to begin the third quarter, but would suffer the same fate as Starkville for most of the game: not being able to finish the job. Late in the third quarter, backup quarterback John Meagher entered the game for McClure. He used his shiftiness and speed to move the Chargers downfield once again. This time, they finished. Meagher was being chased by multiple Jacket defensive linemen and as he approached the sideline, dumped the ball to his tight end JJ Pegues over the middle. The big guy weaved his way to the end zone for a 33 yard touchdown reception. Oxford was back in it. The score was 14-7 Starkville with under a minute left in the third quarter.

As we entered the fourth quarter, fans from both sides began to realize that they had a sure enough ball game in front of them. Momentum really began to shift over when the Jackets turned the ball over for the fourth time right after the Chargers scored to cut the game to seven. After six minutes into the fourth quarter, Meagher was hitting big plays. Facing 4th and 10 from their 37, Meagher avoided a sure Starkville sack and once again found Pegues open over the middle to keep the drive alive. A little bit later, the Chargers were once again faced with 4th down. This time, it was 4th and goal. The Chargers were on Starkville’s five yard line. The Chargers had trips to the right side and it left DeDe Pegues all alone with a defender on the other side of the ball. Meagher took advantage of that matchup and hit DeDe Pegues on a slant to tie the game at 14 with 1:28 to go.

The game went into overtime because of that Charger TD. Starkville’s three game Little Egg Bowl streak was hanging in the balance. The Chargers had the ball first to begin the overtime period. JJ Pegues was lined up at quarterback in wildcat formation. Pegues was used as a decoy and handed the ball off to Sam Bianco on the sweep and Bianco waltzed in the end zone three yards to give the Chargers the lead for the first time in the game. Just like that, Starkville had an answer, it didn't take long. Brown found Harvey once again rolling one way and throwing the other way. The score was knotted up at 21 entering the second overtime period.

Starkville had the ball first in the second overtime period and again pounded their way to the end zone with a KJ Lawrence run up the middle for seven yards. Starkville reclaimed the lead 28-21. The Chargers still had a chance to make the night a little longer. After a few shaky plays, The Chargers were once again faced with 4th and goal. Meagher rolled out and bought time with defenders swarming after him. He threw to his man Jaquan Webb in the back corner of the end zone. The ball was tipped in the air and incomplete. The Jackets rushed the field in joy. The Chargers just walked away, empty handed. Starkville won the game 28-21.

The Yellowjackets will travel to West Point next week. Oxford will host Grenada for their first home game of 2017.

Player of the Game:

Starkville - QB Malik Brown

#Oxford #Starkville #JaredRedding

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