Oak Grove 51, Sterlington 21
Chase Russell, Mickey Broadway, Joshua Mote, Joe Desselle and Lance Hartley. Offensive linemen don't get their names in the box score, but Oak Grove's road graders were the difference as the visiting Tigers wore Sterlington down in the second half on their way to a 51-21 victory in Thursday night's regular season finale.
Leading 18-14 at the half, the Tigers (6-4, 4-1) wasted no time assuming control of the game in the second half.
Receiving the second half kickoff, Sterlington fumbled on the second play from scrimmage and Deshon Epting recovered for the Tigers.
It would prove to be a costly mistake for the Panthers (7-3, 3-2).
Three snaps later, Greg Baker broke three tackles en route to a 16-yard touchdown run. Aaron Davis' extra point was tipped, but made its way through the uprights, stretching the Tigers' lead to 25-14 less than two minutes into the final half.
Jaylon Wade's 38-yard kickoff return gave the Panthers good field position at the Oak Grove 39, but Sterlington was unable to capitalize.
On fourth-and-three, quarterback Devon Murphy's 32-yard pooch punt was downed at the 1.
Literally driving the length of the field, the Tigers covered 99 yards on nine running plays.
Runs of 18 and 17 yards by Deion Wilson accounted for a big chuck of the real estate, setting up Baker's 2-yard run, which extended the margin to 31-14.
Sterlington went three and out on its next series and the Tigers set up shop at the plus-34 following a shanked punt.
With the Tigers facing fourth-and-two from the 26 on the first play of the fourth period, quarterback Chris Mitchell followed Wilson around the left edge all the way to paydirt. Davis' PAT brought the score to 38-14.
Sterlington's next series lasted only two plays as Malcolm Miles' interception turned the ball back over to the Tigers at their own 48.
Three plays later, Baker rambled 30 yards for his fourth touchdown of the evening, giving the Tigers an insurmountable 45-14 spread with 10:12 remaining.
Sterlington then put together a 12-play, 67-yard drive, capped by Austin Haman's 1-yard run. Jacob Bringman's extra point closed the gap to 45-21.
Oak Grove needed just 13 seconds to answer as Miles returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards to wrap up the scoring with 4:20 to play.
Sterlington grabbed the early lead after holding the Tigers to one first down on the game's initial series.
Picking up a crushing block from Calvin Clay at the Sterlington 27, Jaylan King returned Hayden Waters' punt 73 yards to the 12.
Three plays later, Wade took a pitch to the house from nine yards out, staking the Panthers to an early 7-0 lead.
Oak Grove's next sequence ended with Luke Temple's leaping interception at the Sterlington 24.
Following an empty possession by the Panthers, the Tigers regained possession at their own 31.
On second-and-five, Wilson streaked 56 yards down the left sideline to get the Tigers on the board. Oak Grove came up empty on the try for 2, leaving the Panthers up 7-6.
Sterlington then moved from its own 40 to the Oak Grove 28, before Aaron Brumley shut down a fourth-and-three running play for a loss of two.
Feeding off of the defensive stand, the Tigers marched 70 yards on 10 plays, with Wilson following right guard Broadway into the end zone from a yard out.
Sterlington countered with a six-play, 71-yard drive. Wade's 19-yard scamper on a pitch to the right side put the Panthers back on top, 14-12, with 6:26 to play before halftime.
Oak Grove came right back with a seven-play, 59-yard assault to regain the lead.
Facing third-and-16 from its own 35 after a holding penalty, the Tigers moved the chains on Jaylan Holt's diving 31-yard catch at the 34. An unsportsmanlike conduct infraction at the end of the play gave the Tigers a first down at the 19.
Baker did the honors from seven yards out, three plays later, giving the Tigers an 18-14 lead with 2:23 left in the half.
Starting from the 26 after the kickoff, the Panthers quickly moved into Oak Grove territory at the 34, courtesy of Wade's 40-yard pickup.
Sterlington eventually lined up for a field goal with eight seconds remaining in the half. Holder Jacob Barr flipped the ball over his shoulder to Bringman on the fake, but Holt and Sam Terrell combined to stop the Sterlington kicker at the 3 on the fake field goal.
Bringman picked up a first down on the carry, but the Panthers were out of timeouts and unable to get another play off as time expired.
Notes: Sterlington's players wore stickers with a Ouachita “O” logo and number 55 decal on the back of their helmets in memory of Dillon Neal. A Ouachita defensive lineman, Neal lost his life in an automobile accident Saturday. … Sterlington seniors JaQuarius Douglas, Jaylon Wade, QuenTerrius Gray, Nick Naile, Jordan Wheeler, Drew George, Trent Raffray, Jacob Bringman, DeMarcus Matthews, Calvin Clay, Rex Spencer, Austin Haman, Preston Wilson, Cody McGuire, Matthew Giddens, Tyler Buffington, Chase Parks, Tristen VandeGevel, Jacob Young, Christian Carter, Conley Harris, Cole Maples and Hunter Morgan were recognized prior to the game.