Oak Grove 20, Sterlington 14

OAK GROVE — Oak Grove used its brawn to dictate the tempo of the second half against Sterlington on Friday night.

Putting together back-to-back scoring drives of 14 and 16 plays over the final 24 minutes, the Tigers carved out a physical 20-12 victory over the visiting Panthers.

A glimpse at the stat sheet would reveal no indication of a single possession game. Oak Grove ran 72 plays to Sterlington's 37, tripled the Panthers in first downs (18-6) and held a decisive 341-216 edge in total offense. Perhaps even more telling, the Tigers dominated the second half time of possession 17:59-6:01.

Held to two first downs in the first half, the Panthers (2-1) were able to stay within striking distance by connecting on a big play late in the third quarter and capitalizing on a late turnover.

Oak Grove (3-0) scored on its fifth play from scrimmage when quarterback Kameron Holloway streaked 48 yards to open the scoring.

It would remain 6-0 at halftime as both teams left points on the board.

Dorian Eddins returned the ensuing kickoff 39 yards to The Grove 38, but the Panthers gained only two yards on three plays. Cole Jones caught Clay Vaughn's 33-yard punt to pin the Tigers at their own 4.

After picking up a first down, the Panthers regained possession at the plus-25 on the punt and a personal foul against the Tigers.

Dallas Reagor's 19-yard burst went for a first-and-goal at the 6. Linebacker Wyatt Rawls forced a fumble two plays later, and teammate David Bruce recovered at the 1.

Oak Grove went three plays and out, and Sterlington regained possession at the 19 on a short punt and a friendly bounce.

Again, the Panthers were unable to cash in on the field position and Oak Grove took over at the 20 on a missed 34-yard field goal.

Oak Grove moved the chains to the 31 on a pair of running plays ahead of being flagged for delay of game. On first-and-15 from the 26, Ladarius Ward scampered 49 yards before Landon Green made a touchdown-saving tackle at the 25.

With the Tigers facing third-and-10, Dorian Eddins' interception ended the threat.

Taking over at the 15, the Panthers fumbled the ball away two plays later. Otis Moore ran the fumble inside the 5, but an illegal block on the return pushed the Tigers back to the 36.

Oak Grove then drove to the 3 before being stopped about four inches shy of the first down on fourth down.

Receiving the second half kickoff, the Tigers crossed midfield on Kameron Holloway's 16-yard run, but the drive fizzled after an errant pitch.

Starting from their own 35 after the punt, the Panthers advanced to the Oak Grove 31 on Brody Green's 32-yard screen pass to Reagor.

Sterlington turned the ball over on downs at the 27 four snaps later.

Oak Grove's front wall — Jacob Gunter, Nick Sciara, Cole Pennock, Kade Klink and EJ Anderson — took over from there.

Fourteen plays, 73 yards and nearly seven minutes later, on third-and-six from the 19, Braden Sullivan found Kelvin Holloway for the touchdown. James Clack's PAT made it 13-0 late in the third quarter.

Sterlington needed just 16 seconds to counter. Clay Vaughn's 68-yard touchdown reception from Hayes Crockett closed the deficit to 13-6 with eight seconds to play in the third quarter.

Flagged for an offensive facemask on the return, the Tigers began their next series from the 16.

Continuing to grind away, the Tigers covered 84 yards on 16 plays, consuming 8:10 off the clock.

Kameron Holloway's 6-yard run around the right edge upped the Tigers lead to 20-6.

Reagor's 34-yard touchdown catch off of a screen pass was wiped off by a holding call and Sterlington eventually turned the ball over on downs at the 24.

With possession of the ball and just 2:02 remaining, the Tigers appeared to have the game in hand.

Sterlington's exhausted defense immediately came up with a turnover as Cole Jones pounced on a fumble at the Oak Grove 26.

A personal foul against the Tigers advanced the Panthers to the 16.

On third-and-20 from the 26, Crockett found Layton Rainbolt to keep the Panthers' hopes alive. Under duress on the 2-point conversion, the right-handed Crockett improvised to find Hixson Street with a left-handed pass, bringing the score to 20-14 with just 1:08 to play.

Sterlington's onside kick hooked out of bounds, and the Tigers ran out the clock.

INJURIES: Sterlington's injury list continues to grow at an alarming rate. Quick tackle Tyler Hitt and linebacker Seth Temple did not dress out for the game. Two more starters, tailback C.J. Colvin and Reece Brooks remain out. ... Cornerback Dorian Eddins left the game late in the second half and kicker/defensive back Landon Green was injured early in the third quarter. Neither returned. ... Reagor and defensive lineman Colby Rivera also missed time, though both finished the game. ... With the injuries mounting in the secondary, freshman Cole Thompson saw extensive action. ... Oren Keller assumed the kicking duties in Landon Green's stead. ... Sophomore Joby Guthrie drew the start at quick tackle in place of Hitt.

NOTES: Oak Grove Mayor Adam Holland was presented with the Mayor's Cup during a postgame ceremony. The two long-time rivals started playing for the trophy several years ago. ... Oak Grove ended a four-game losing streak to the Panthers, dating back to a 51-21 victory at Panther Field in 2013. ... Coming off of a 34-19 victory over Wossman in Monroe, the Class 1A Tigers defeated their second straight District 2-3A foe.

UPCOMING: Sterlington closes out pre-district play with consecutive home dates vs. Loyola (Sept. 21) and Calvary Baptist (Sept. 28). ... The JV Panthers play Cedar Creek on Monday at 6 p.m. in Ruston. ... Oak Grove opens District 2-1A play Friday night in Ferriday vs. Delta Charter before returning home for a Sept. 28 encounter with St. Frederick.