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Chargers come back, survive scare from Vicksburg

Jared Redding

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OXFORD – OHS head coach Johnny Hill had one final game facing his rival from back in his coaching days at Warren Central.  He ended Vicksburg High’s 2015 campaign before his own career finished.

The No. 1-seeded Oxford High Chargers defeated the No. 4-seeded Gators 35-21 to keep their season alive for another week, and provide Hill another opportunity to chase that elusive state championship ring.  

The Chargers erased a 14-point deficit and scored 28 unanswered points to win the MHSAA Class 5A first-round playoff game.

“We didn’t hit on all cylinders early, but they fought back and played hard and I’m proud of them,” Hill said about his team.

Jack Abraham completed 23 of his 45 passes for 308 yards and two touchdowns.  

D.K. Metcalf led the Chargers with seven receptions for 91 yards and a 6-yard touchdown late in the first half.  Ken Presley had three catches for 48 yards and a 27-yard touchdown early in the first quarter.

Hiram Wadlington had a career-high rushing with 151 yards on 22 carries.  Wadlington had two touchdowns on the ground.  

Meanwhile, Zach Cousar usually catches passes from Abraham for his offensive production – not this time, however.  Cousar was needed to plunge into the end zone for a rushing touchdown.

The Charger defense allowed three touchdowns on the Gators’ first three possessions.  Eventually, the Chargers adjusted their defense and kept Vicksburg High quarterback Joe Johnson and Co. in check.

“When we went into halftime, we realized that we needed to get a pass rush started,” Chargers defensive end Marcel Pegues said.  “The pressure just totally shut them (Vicksburg) down on offense.”

D.T. Thompson led the Chargers with seven tackles.  D.Q. Thomas and Kent Hickinbottm each had six tackles.  Hickinbottm, Pegues and Nick Sisk each had a tackle for a loss.

Jack Turner and Tias Hilliard had an interception apiece.  Hilliard’s interception with 7:31 to play put the game on ice.

Extra Points

Turning Point:

Early in the second quarter, the Chargers trailed 21-7.  They faced their largest deficit dating back to last season in the state championship game.  Almost everything was going well for the Gators until their special teams started having problems.  Greaser blocked Vicksburg punter Greg Hayden’s punt to put the Chargers in great field position.  The Chargers then capitalized with the touchdown rush by Cousar.  The Gators were forced to punt again under two minutes left in the first half.  Hayden could not handle a bad snap and the Chargers started off once again in Gator territory.  Metcalf then caught a beautiful fade pass from Abraham to tie the game at 21 right before halftime.  The Chargers had momentum coming out of the locker room at halftime.

Playmaker:

Hiram Wadlington was needed to step up because of the Gators’ relentless pass rush, which gave Abraham and his offensive line fits.  Wadlington averaged nearly seven yards a carry to go along with his two touchdowns.  His 1-yard touchdown run on fourth down gave the Chargers their first lead of the ball game late in the third quarter.

Talking Point:

“We don’t have time for mistakes and penalties,” Pegues said.  “It’s not just a regular season anymore.  It’s either we lose and we go home, or we win and keep on going.”

Notes:

  • The Chargers failed to recover two onside kicks, one of them was the opening kickoff.
  • This is the Charger’s 14th playoff appearance in the past 16 seasons.
  • Next week, the Chargers host the Germantown Mavericks in the Class 5A quarterfinals.

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Chargers come back, survive scare from Vicksburg