No. 10 St. James edges Oakman, 23-20

MONTGOMERY — Oakman came up one drive short Friday night as the Wildcats dropped a 23-20 decision to No. 10 St. James in their 3A first-round playoff game. In a back-and-forth contest, Oakman grabbed the lead early in the fourth quarter on a Dante Williams interception return for a score, but St. James responded with a touchdown on its ensuing drive to take the lead for good. Oakman closes the season at 6-5 under first-year head coach Ryan Hall. All five losses were by 7 points or less. On Friday night, St. James grabbed a first-quarter lead at 2-0 after a bad snap resulted in a safety. The Trojans pushed the lead to 8-0 later in the quarter.

Oakman scored a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter, notching the score at 8-8 and then taking a 14-8 lead going into the half. Christian Hubbard scored both touchdowns, on a run and a reception from quarterback Malachi Bridges. In the third quarter, St. James marched down the field on its second possession, going 46 yards in seven plays with Bennett Blankenship scoring on a short run for a 15-14 Trojans lead with 2:29 left in the third quarter. With 9:37 left in the game, Oakman grabbed its last lead with Williams picking off a Drew Fett pass — his first interception of the season — and racing 57 yards to the end zone, giving Oakman a 20-15 advantage. The lead didn’t last long. St. James got a kickoff return to its own 46-yard line and put together a 54-yard, six-play drive endng with a Paul Windham touchdown run with seven minutes left in the game for the 23-20 lead. Oakman fumbled the ensuing kickoff. St. James got as close as the six-yard line before penalties backed them up. The Trojans eventually turned the ball over on downs with 1:59 left. Oakman’s final drive ended on three plays and St. James closed the game out in victory formation.