• Jared Redding

Rowdy's Recap: MHSAA State Championships, Day 1

Jefferson Davis County hoists the gold ball after winning the Class 3A State Championship game. Photo courtesy of Keith Warren, MHSAA.

Class 3A: Jefferson Davis County 25, Noxubee County 15

Who would’ve thought a few months ago that Jefferson Davis County would be going to a state championship after a 2-6 start and finishing fourth in Region 8-3A? The answer: Jefferson Davis County.

The Jaguars got hot at the right time and found themselves in the big game, going against a Noxubee County team that got there in similar fashion. That just goes to show what championship culture and good coaching can do.

Keyser Booth came out of the gates like a man possessed, scoring two touchdowns. One was a 36 yard touchdown pass from Lyric Hall and the other was a 80-yard score on the ground. It was 13-0 late in the first quarter.

Noxubee County proceeded to get back in the game momentarily thanks to a failed fake JDC punt and 33-yard touchdown strike from Marlon Windham to Anthony Little. Following a Tiger interception, they couldn’t capitalize, and JDC’s Deandre Shorts made them pay with a 39-yard touchdown run with 1:19 left in the first half. He even had an interception in the end zone before going into the locker room up 19-7.

The Tigers started moving the ball much better in the second half, but their first three drives of the second half yielded zero points, turning the ball over on downs each time. Shorts had another interception midway through the fourth quarter, and Keyser Booth used his third touchdown to put the game on ice with a 42 yard touchdown run. The Tigers would score late, but it was far too late.

Booth was awarded MVP, Lance Mancuso will get his eighth ring, and Jefferson Davis County High School wins their second state championship in three years of the school being opened.

Class 1A: Nanih Waiya 28, Lumberton 13

When Robert Henry broke free for a 50-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game, it seemed as if Lumberton was almost destined to win their first state title since 2010. Then, everything went downhill from here, starting with this missed extra point.

The Nanih Waiya Warriors were on this stage last year, they know that anything can happen, especially in a championship game. The Warriors responded by moving down field with Donovan Turner lobbing the football up to Tylan Glass for an amazing 17 yard touchdown pass. It would get worse for Lumberton.

Nanih Waiya’s defense tightened up en route to allowing just 205 total yards for the game. Shia Moore later scored the first of his two touchdowns on the ground. They even had the chance to put up more points before halftime had not they failed to score near the goal line with a second left. They didn’t decide to kick a field goal, equivalent to an extra point. Turns out they didn’t need that all that much.

After a scoreless third quarter, Nanih Waiya took control for good. Shia Moore and Austin Sanders each had a touchdown run in the fourth quarter while the defense did the rest. That results in the Warriors winning back-to-back state championships. For the second season in a row, Turner won championship MVP.

Class 6A: Oxford 31, Oak Grove 21

What a game. What a comeback. What a coaching job.

In just his fourth year as head coach, Chris Cutcliffe did what no Charger had ever done before him: win a state championship. However, for the first 24 minutes of play, it seemed like Oxford would experience more heart break in December.

Late in a grueling first quarter, Jack Tannehill got the Chargers on the board first with a 27 yard field goal. Oak Grove needed to respond, and they did, with a Tavion Smith touchdown catch from Damon Stewart from 27 yards out. For the following 11 minutes of the first half. Everything was going right for Oak Grove.

Oxford couldn’t get anything going offensively during that stretch. Meanwhile, Oak Grove was scoring touchdowns. Eugene Newell found the end zone for Oak Grove. Midway through the second quarter. Later on, Oak Grove had another opportunity to score before the half. The Chargers stood firm for three plays. Then, Oak Grove went to their bag of tricks: the good ole Philly Special. They burned Oxford with another touchdown, and all the momentum going into halftime.

Oxford desperately needed to score to begin the second half, and they did with a 62 yard touchdown pass from John Meagher to J.J. Pegues. Oxford came alive. Defensively, the Chargers held from in the red zone with a 4th down stop. John Meagher followed that up with a 23 yard quarterback scamper. Following a failed two point attempt, the Chargers trailed. Oak Grove then had a dramatic drive, filled with third down conversions, but to no avail, thank to that Charger defense. They stopped the Warriors on the one yard line.

The Chargers proceeded to go 99 yards and took their first lead when John Meagher hit J.J. Pegues for a 21 yard score. The Chargers then succeeded on their two point attempt, and led 24-21. Oak Grove was running out of time. The Warriors decided to go for it on 4th and 1 in their own territory and were stuffed. There was still a chance for Oak Grove, having the Chargers at 3rd and goal from the 28 yard line. Meagher then shut the door with a 25 yard touchdown to put the game on ice.

At the end of the night, after all the heartbreak that Oxford has felt over the years, the Chargers are finally state champions. The fans rushed the field, former head coach Johnny Hill embraced Cutcliffe. Cutcliffe was even met by his dad, current Duke head coach David Cutcliffe. What a moment.

What an ending.

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