Oxford (6-0, 4-0) vs. Olive Branch (4-3, 1-3)
After two weeks of not having the capsules, they are back. Oxford will host an Olive Branch team that has lost their way from winning football games and are in danger of being knocked out of playoff contention with a loss to Oxford this week.
The Conquistadors last week took a loss to the Southaven Chargers 19-14 to drop to 1-3 in the division, a team they really couldn’t afford to lose to after Southaven had to take two forfeit losses after playing their game against Oxford due to COVID cases.
Defensively, Olive Branch allows 19.3 points per game. A solid job as they have been consistent on that side of the ball and its a number that should equal to better than the four wins they have in seven games.
Offensively, Olive Branch has scored 18.1 points per game and a low 10.3 points per game in their last three games, which tells us their offense has gotten more predictable as the season has gone on. They only put up 10 points against Horn Lake for the game earlier this season, a team Oxford put up 43 on just last week. Much like we have seen other teams do this season, there is no stats to showcase their players, a sign that tells other people that their team is not as good as their 4-0 start would indicate and more like their current three game losing streak would tell you.
Oxford has only gotten hotter offensively as the season continues, throwing up 39 and 43 points in the first halves of their last two games. The Chargers have not failed to put up 31 points this season and that’s a little in part because defensively and non-field goal special teams have made plays to score touchdowns or put the offense in position to score touchdowns there as well.
Entering division play, this looked to be a game that would determining seeding in the playoffs, but now this is a game Olive Branch desperately needs just to have a hope of making the playoffs. If Oxford takes care of business, this should not be a problem game for them.
Lafayette (5-2, 3-1) @ New Hope (2-5, 1-3)
Lafayette enters this game with control of their own destiny to win the division after West Point suffered back-to-back losses to fall behind the Commodores in the divisional standings. As crazy as this division has gone, New Hope is not out of the playoff hunt yet, but they need to pull off another crazy result in this game to make us go through some of these tie-breakers to see who is in, out, or who has what seed.
If Lafayette takes care of business, then Lafayette will continue on their quest for the 1-seed at the end of the regular season, and New Hope will be on life support in making the playoffs.
The Trojans have not had the offensive firepower this season, scoring just 13.9 points per game – and haven’t matched the 22 points New Hope scored in their two-quarter jamboree this season. Throwing the football, they have found zero consistency as their quarterbacks Zac Butler and Tyquantez Crowell have combined to be 42-for-112 passing (good for just a 38 percent of completed passes) for 462 yards, four touchdowns against eight interceptions. That’s good for just 66 yards in the air and at least one interception per game. New Hope’s main method of attack is on the ground, rushing for 1,448 yards on the season, enough for 207 yards per game. They have used three different quarterbacks and one a mobile quarterback in Crowell who leads the team in rushing with 590 yards.
Defensively, they’ve allowed north of 24 points per game. Not a great number, but that is more in part that the New Hope offense has likely put the defense in some bad situations for a handful of those points allowed, so their defensive unit overall is better than the points allowed would have one indicate as that is more indicative of how the team has performed. Their defense is one of the biggest reasons New Hope has two one-point wins on the season over Aberdeen and Saltillo.
New Hope is matched offensively with a more-and-more impressive Lafayette defense that allowed 12.4 points per game and 9.8 during division play. Commodores are pacing 25.1 points per game on offense led by the offensive tandem of Tyrus Williams and Jayden Reed. Reed went for 164 yards on 25 carries and a score last week against Saltillo.
As one remembers, this game was originally set to be played at Lafayette this season, but the two schools agreed to flip the sites last year to avoid destroying New Hope’s field from Mother Nature. There is a 30 percent chance for thunderstorms Friday night. Hopefully that doesn’t damper this game for the second year in a row.
Overall, this game can stay competitive for a while, but if New Hope is unable to move the ball, Lafayette should be able to put this one in the win column as long as they take care of business.
However, I know all about games being played down there and something is always amiss when a game gets played in Trojan Country…..