Starkville wins Little Egg Bowl in battle between elite receivers

Starkville wins Little Egg Bowl in battle between elite receivers

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Starkville wins Little Egg Bowl in battle between elite receivers

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Oxford's Drew Bianco (8) tries to avoid a tackle from Starkville's Tyler Moore (22) in the first quarter. (Photo: Keith Warren/For the Clarion-Ledger)

Oxford’s Drew Bianco (8) tries to avoid a tackle from Starkville’s Tyler Moore (22) in the first quarter. (Photo: Keith Warren/For the Clarion-Ledger)

In a showdown of the state’s top two receivers, Starkville’s A.J. Brown came out on top Friday night.

The four-star Yellowjackets wide-out racked up a career-high 16 receptions for 176 yards to lead Starkville to a 20-7 win over Oxford in the third annual Little Egg Bowl. The game was televised nationally as part of the GEICO ESPN High School Kickoff.

Brown averaged close to a first down per catch. The Chargers threw their best at him, including matchups with receiver and Ole Miss commit D.K. Metcalf, who converted to cornerback in an attempt to contain Brown.

“They played man-to-man. I don’t get that too often,” Brown said. “When they go man-to-man we just need to take advantage. Man-to-man, I think I can go against any corner in the nation.”

Oxford (1-1) jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter after Zack Jenkins picked off a Montario Montgomery pass on Starkville’s opening possession. The interception set up a three-play, 10-yard drive capped off by Drew Bianco’s 1-yard run for the Chargers’ touchdown.

It would be the only time the Chargers reached the endzone.

Starkville scored 20 unanswered points starting off with the use of the option early in the second quarter.

The Yellowjackets began the period at the Oxford 6-yard line on third down. One play later, Montgomery rolled out and ran to his right down the sideline for a 5-yard score.

The Yellowjackets took the lead in the third quarter on a broken play with 5:25 remaining in the period. The Chargers’ defensive line got pressure on Montgomery for the first time all game. The senior avoided the sack and launched a pass off his back foot which was caught in the back of the endzone by senior Avery Brown for a 22-yard touchdown reception.

In a game where A.J. Brown was the set-up man, Avery Brown was the home run hitter.

Against the Chargers, Avery Brown rushed 30 times for 118 yards and one touchdown.

Oxford quarterback Jack Abraham struggled to find his No. 1 offensive threat all night. Metcalf’s first reception for positive yardage didn’t come until 8:50 remained in the game.

The Chargers threatened a comeback, but penalties played a role in keeping them out of the endzone.

Facing 4th and 27, Oxford attempted a hook-and-ladder play. Abraham hit Zach Cousar, who flipped the ball to Ken Presley.

A.J. Brown was waiting down near the endzone and laid a huge hit into the senior receiver to push him out of bounds at the 2-yard line.

“We’d been practicing it all week with me at safety but I didn’t go in because I was cramping,” Brown said. “I was just trying to make a play for my team.”

Starkville (1-1) held Oxford to 243 total yards of offense while it put up 437 yards of its own.

“You’re not going to win consistently unless you have a good defense,” Starkville coach Ricky Woods said. “We got a great defense, we know that. Our offense just has to score some points and keep them off the field.”

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