SAMANTHA – Powered by a balanced offensive attack, Northside quickly dispatched Oak Grove at home Friday night, beating the Tigers 54-21 in a dominant homecoming performance.

Knowing that homecoming weeks are distracting and can lead to lackluster play, Northside coach Chris Hilliker challenged his team in practice to ignore any potential diversions and focus on the matchup against Oak Grove. The Rams responded.

On the first play of the game, Northside quarterback Jake Corkren found Luke Stripling for a 22-yard reception. The tone was set. What followed was a 65-yard scoring drive capped with a 6-yard rushing touchdown by John Hutchinson.

After Northside’s defense forced Oak Grove to go three-and-out, the Rams offense immediately went back to work. Corkren zipped a pass across the middle to a wide-open Ashton Pugh, who outran several Tiger defenders en route to a 57-yard score.

“I thought we really executed well the first couple of drives and played solid defense,” Hilliker said.

However, the Rams’ next two drives didn’t pan out as well. The first quarter ended with Northside up 14-0.

Then the floodgates opened.

Northside’s offense marched down the field and scored on three of its next four drives, and its defense did some scoring of its own. Just a few plays after running in a 7-yard touchdown to put the Rams up 34-7, Luke Stripling recovered an Oak Grove fumble and juked several hapless Tigers players on his way to the end zone, giving Northside a commanding lead going into the half.

“We challenge our defense to score,” Hilliker said. “They did a great job. For our defense to score for us is huge.”

Northside controlled most of the second half, but Oak Grove scored a couple late touchdowns to trim the lead.

With the win, the Northside improved to 7-1 on the season. The Rams are idle next week.