Slice and dice: Oakland’s ground game pounds Maryville to punch BlueCross Bowl ticket

James, Patterson combine for 263 rushing yards and five touchdowns in semifinal romp

MURFREESBORO — Oakland was missing one of its major offensive weapons in Friday’s Class 6A semifinal against visiting Maryville, but the rest of the arsenal had more than enough firepower to fend off the invading Rebels.

Despite not having Victor Stephenson due to a foot injury, Jordan James and Antonio Patterson slashed and dashed their way through Maryville’s defense as the Patriots rolled to a 49-7 victory at Ray Hughes Stadium to send Oakland back to the BlueCross Bowl for the third time in six years.

Oakland’s offensive line established its dominance up front, powering James to 163 yards on 27 carries, while Patterson sliced his way to 100 yards on 11 rushes.

“They’re a good 1-2 punch for sure,” Oakland head coach Kevin Creasy said. “Gotta be rough on a defense to key on one and the next one bust it on a long run.”

Patterson found paydirt three times, while James made two trips to the end zone. Khalil James and Korey Smith also rushed for touchdowns as Oakland (14-0) scored all its points on the ground.

“It feels very good,” Patterson said. “To beat them on this field, where we haven’t been beaten yet (since the turf was installed prior to the 2019 season), it feels very good.”

All of that happened while the Patriot defense blockaded the Rebels (12-1) for the majority of the evening. Only a 76-yard touchdown run by Parker McGill against Oakland’s backups kept it from being the third consecutive year that this semifinal matchup ended with a shutout.

“Defense has stepped up their game even more,” Creasy said. “Every playoff game they’ve played fast, they’ve played with a reckless abandon and they do it for four quarters. Our first team had a shutout. To shut out a team like Maryville, who hardly ever punts, that’s impressive to hold them the first three series without even a first down.”

The host team has won seven consecutive games in the series, including each of the last six years in the 6A semifinals.

“They’re a heck of a team,” Patterson said. “Good job, Maryville. But we were ready for them.”

Oakland advances to play Brentwood, a rematch of an Oct. 2 game that came together midweek due to COVID-19 cancellations by both teams’ original opponents. The Patriots won 37-0 at Brentwood.

“You can just throw that first game out the window,” Creasy said. “It was about as much preparation time as we had to get on a bus to play a JV game. We were just both wanting to play for our seniors, having two COVID cancellations in the same week. Coach (Ron) Crawford and I are good buddies, so we played each other. That game is certainly not anything close to what it’s going to be like this coming week.”

Patterson agreed.

“Their defense is going to come out harder,” Patterson said. “They’ll probably change some things up on defense and offense too.”

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