MURFREESBORO – Eric Taylor provided the stop Oakland needed at exactly the right time during Thursday night’s game against Lipscomb Academy.
With a 29-21 lead and Lipscomb Academy threatening to score from the 2-yard line with 3.6 seconds left, Oakland defensive coordinator Stephen Jackson called for an edge blitz from Taylor.
The speedy senior wasn’t about to let his favorite coach down.
Taylor timed the snap perfectly, flew in from the right side and immediately hit and tackled Lipscomb Academy running back Alex Broome, who had just taken a handoff from quarterback Luther Richesson.
“It was a ‘see ball, get ball’ mindset,” Taylor said. “I knew I was going to dominate him.”
Before that play, Oakland – the No. 1 team in the Main Street Preps Top 25 – got all it could handle from No. 2 Lipscomb Academy.
The Patriots (5-0) didn’t take their first lead until Georgia commitment Jordan James powered his way into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown and Antonio Patterson tacked on the 2-point conversion run with 6:29 remaining in the fourth quarter.
That was unfamiliar territory for Oakland, which rarely falls behind in games and hasn’t lost since dropping the TSSAA Class 6A BlueCross Bowl to Maryville in 2019.
“We haven’t been in a situation where we’ve been behind too much,” Oakland coach Kevin Creasy said. “We were really happy that our guys responded. The easy thing would have been to lay down and let that clock run out, but our guys decided to man up and fight a little bit in the second half.”
Lipscomb Academy (4-1) nearly took a two-score lead into the fourth quarter. Instead, James put the Patriots back on track by breaking off a 75-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the third.
The four-star senior finished with 200 yards on 21 carries.
“The o-line blocked really well and opened a big hole for me, and I just did the rest,” James said. “That play turned the whole game around. That gave us all the momentum.”
The Mustangs largely controlled the pace in the first half – aside from Theron Gaines’ strip-sack of Richesson that resulted in a 42-yard touchdown by Korey Smith three minutes before halftime.
Broome ran for a 10-yard touchdown in the first quarter, caught a 25-yard touchdown from Richesson in the second and added a 1-yard scoring plunge in the third. The Boston College commitment racked up 133 yards on 20 carries and grabbed four passes for 44 yards.
In the end, Oakland made just enough plays to send most of the estimated 5,500 fans home happy.
“We knew it was going to be a heck of a game,” Creasy said. “For a minute or two, it looked like we were going to lose by two or three touchdowns. But our guys have a lot of pride about this field, and our fans provide a home-field advantage.”
Oakland, the defending Class 6A state champions, had only played three games before Thursday due to a pair of cancellations earlier this month. Lipscomb Academy, the 2020 Division II-AA runner-up, represented the Patriots’ first true challenge.
Taylor was relieved after the win. He knows his team is now better prepared for its home dates with Blackman, CPA and Riverdale over the next month.
“This is a game that we needed,” Taylor said. “We haven’t had a test like that. We needed that (to build confidence) for the playoffs. It was a good non-region game for both sides.”
Oakland 29, Lipscomb Academy 21
L – 7 7 7 0 – 21
O – 0 7 7 15 – 29
L – Alex Broome 10 run (6:35), Grant Hyatt kick
O – Korey Smith 42 fumble return (3:12), Avory Rogers kick
L – Broome 25 pass from Luther Richesson (0:05), Hyatt kick
L – Broome 1 run (1:13), Hyatt kick
O – Jordan James 75 run (0:56), Rogers kick
O – James 1 run (6:21), Antonio Patterson run
O – Kade Hewitt 1 run (1:39), Rogers kick