Oxford (3-0, 1-0) vs. Lewisburg (2-2, 0-1)
Oxford is coming back home to Bobby Holcomb Field after a thrilling come from behind victory over Southaven 31-28. The Lewisburg Patriots is coming off a resounding loss to Horn Lake 41-13.
This is Oxford’s homecoming game as they take on a Lewisburg team that has gone back toward the Patriot teams of the past, lots of good offense, and not a lot of good defense. So far Lewisburg is averaging 31.5 points per game on offense which is solid, but defensively over their last three games, they’ve allowed more than 40 per game.
This is a polar opposite of how their team was composed last year as in 11 of their 12 games Lewisburg’s defense didn’t allow more than 21 points in any such contest, which was good for the fifth-best scoring defense in 6A last year. However, the reason Lewisburg was 4-8 last year was because offensively they were dead last in 6A as they failed to score more than 10 points in half of their games, and didn’t score more than 17 points except for twice. Oxford won last year’s meeting 21-3.
This year, Lewisburg’s main method of offense will be on the ground as they average north of 300 yards per game in that department. They have used four running backs, led primarily by Myles Smith who has 51 carries for 395 yards and three touchdowns. Other running backs that have seen significant carries include (appropriately named) Blake Speed (27 rushes, 251 yards, four touchdowns), Jason Hoffman (27 rushes, 278 yards, two touchdowns), and Ledger Carroll (21 rushes, 211 yards, three touchdowns)
The Patriots are led by quarterback Gage Haley who is 24-for-49 on the season for 296 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. That’s good for just more than 12 pass attempts per game. They average 39 rushing attempts per game, pushing the ratio just slightly better than 75/25 run-to-pass percentage. Oxford’s defense needs to be prepared for the run game, but not to forget about the passing game. Lewisburg does just enough to keep a defense honest.
Of course, Lewisburg’s defense will be facing an Oxford offense that in reality didn’t get a lot going last week, even during Oxford’s 20-point comeback in the second half. The 31 points scored last week against Southaven is a little misleading from an offensive standpoint because Oxford really sustained just one drive on offense that went for a touchdown. The other 24 points were scored on a 20-yard touchdown drive that started on a muffed punt, a pick-six by linebacker Tristian Shorter, and three field goals by Jack Tannehill that were set up due to a lackluster special teams unit from Southaven and another turnover by the Oxford defense. The three field goals that ultimately won the game for Oxford had drives that started at Southaven’s 33, 35, and 23-yard-line. The Chargers had just 260 yards of total offense. Eleven of Oxford’s 14 drives last week netted 20 yards or less. Against Lewisburg’s defense, they should be able to find their footing again.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and can be heard on the radio on 95.5 FM. If any tickets are left unsold after 10 a.m. Friday morning at OHS, they will be sold at the gate to the general public. As of Thursday evening, 100 tickets were still available for purchase. It can be seen streaming at https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/oxford-hs-oxford-ms/gam176792aefe .
Lafayette (2-2, 0-1) vs. Grenada (2-1, 1-0)
Lafayette is coming off another gut-wrenching 21-15 loss to West Point to start their divisional schedule at 0-1. Grenada is coming off a 38-11 win at home against Saltillo to start 1-0. This is a huge game for both teams as they jostle for early playoff positioning. Lafayette cannot get into an 0-2 hole against two teams that will likely be in the playoffs if Grenada is to come out victorious.
This is a huge game not just for playoff implications, but for the first time this season, Lafayette will be playing in the friendly confines of William L. Buford stadium, and just at the right time too as the Governor Tate Reeves announced Wednesday that he is now allowing patrons up to 50 percent of the stadium’s capacity attend a high school sporting event.
As mentioned four weeks ago when Grenada played Oxford, Joshua Phillips is Grenada’s quarterback. Grenada uses a zone-read offense using primarily two players making plays on the ground with Phillips and running back Joe Moss in the backfield. Moss so far has 29 carries for 294 yards and three touchdowns. Phillips on the ground has 44 carries for 368 yards and three touchdowns as well.
Phillips throwing the ball is just 25-for-58 for 307 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions, not a great ratio in the air in the turnover department. Turnovers so far has been a problem for Grenada as they had four against Oxford with three being fumbles lost (and they had six fumbles in total) in their season opener. Turnovers were a problem for Lafayette last week as well as those gave West Point short fields and momentum changing plays that ultimately caused their downfall. With Lafayette playing at home for the first time this season, one would think they would be more comfortable and therefore would have a slight advantage with taking care of the ball.
Whoever wins this game is going to be the team that is able to take care of the ball more on offense. Both defenses have seen that the other offense hasn’t been taking care of the ball as well as they should. Grenada’s defense has done a better job after allowing 35 points on defense (two was as a result of a special teams miscue for a safety) to Oxford in their opener, pitching a shutout against Kosciusko and giving up 11 to Saltillo. Neither team Grenada has faced the last two games has great offenses to speak of, but that is an improvement and a sign Grenada’s defense isn’t laying down for anyone, especially when they will be facing against players as dynamic as Tyrus Williams and their stable of running backs Lafayette has.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and can be heard on the radio at 105.1 FM. The game can be streamed live at https://lafco.live/watch-live/ for a fee of $10.