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Chargers fall inches short of football state title

Jared Redding

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OXFORD — With 4 seconds remaining, Jack Abraham ran to his left, the end zone within reach.  He dove for the pylon.

The east side of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium signaled touchdown; a referee said he was a yard short.  One yard separated the Chargers from winning their first state title.

The Wayne County War Eagles defeated the Oxford High Chargers 45-41 Saturday night to win the MHSAA Class 5A state championship.  The Chargers have lost for the third straight year in the state championship game.

OHS head coach Johnny Hill had been a part of several wild finishes throughout his long career.  His final game at the helm of the Chargers was one of them.

“I’ve been in some crazy ones, I’ve been in some where we won,” Hill said.  “That’s part of football – you play until the horn goes off.”

Abraham played his final game as a Charger, capping off his remarkable career with arguably his best performance.  Abraham completed 35 of his 52 passes for a career-high 550 passing yards and four touchdowns passes.

Hiram Wadlington had nine catches for 198 yards and two touchdowns.  D.K. Metcalf, an Ole Miss commit, had 11 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the stadium that he will be calling home for the next three to four years.  Jimmy Greaser and Ken Presley combined for 11 catches for 183 yards.

The Chargers’ defense started the game off slow by allowing a 74-yard scoring pass pass from Wayne County’s Reggie Stewart to his teammate Freddy Jordan with 10:41 left in the first quarter.  Since that play, the Chargers forced two turnovers and only allowed a touchdown scored by Chris Cooley and a field goal by Brett Reynolds.  After only allowing 17 points the first half, things began to change, as the War Eagles scored 28 points in the second half.

Jack Turner led the Chargers with nine tackles.  Dee Fair had eight tackles.

The Chargers forced two turnovers, both in the first half.  Tias Hilliard and D.Q. Thomas each had an interception.

Extra Points

Turning Point:

The War Eagles, trailing by 10 with eight-and-a-half minutes remaining in the game, drove to cut the Chargers’ lead to a one-possession game. Stewart threw a screen pass to Jordan who caught the ball with one hand.  Stewart then raced 45 yards for a touchdown to make the score 41-38, with the Chargers still in front.  The Chargers killed some time on their next offensive possession, but were forced to punt the ball away.  The War Eagles had 2:55 to score.  The War Eagles drove the ball to the Chargers’ red zone.  The War Eagles put their top notch defensive tackle Benito Jones in at tight end to catch a 9-yard touchdown pass from Stewart.  The big guy Jones gave the War Eagles their first lead since leading 10-7 midway through the first quarter.  The Chargers had a chance to drive down the field and win with 1:17 left in the game.  The Chargers fell just short.

Playmaker:

Wadlington fought so hard despite an injury he suffered during the game.  Wadlington had 278 yards of total offense, 98 of those coming from a screen pass that resulted in a 98-yard touchdown reception from Abraham in the shadow of their own goal post.  That touchdown allowed the Chargers to go up by 11 points.

Talking Point:

“Life ain’t fair all the time,” Hill said. “That’s the way it is.”

Notes: 

  • The Chargers lost in the state championship game the last three years by a combined score of 116-102.
  • Abraham had 333 passing yards in the first half alone.
  • Wayne County has now won four state championships; this one was their first since 2006.

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Chargers fall inches short of football state title