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OHS knocks off Grenada, advances to second round playoffs

Jared Redding, Sports Editor

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GRENADA — For the first time since 2010, the Oxford Chargers didn’t open the playoffs in the comfortable confines of Bobby Holcomb Field. That didn’t change Oxford’s mindset one bit, and that is getting to play in Starkville in December.

In a battle of Chargers, the Chargers from the north were victorious. Oxford defeated Grenada 34-16 in the opening round of the MHSAA Class 5A Playoffs. Oxford made a big statement in this game.

“We wanted to be aggressive in the playoffs. We wanted our guys to know that we are playing to win the game,” head coach Chris Cutcliffe said. “I think it really comes down to execution. Our guys really executed in all three phases.”

After struggling offensively the previous week against Lake Cormorant, Oxford responded with an outstanding 34 point outing against one of the state’s top overall defenses. Oxford went uptempo while sustaining drives and dominating the time of possession. Oxford used aggressive play calling.

“It is daylight and dark difference from last week,” offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Sam McCorkle said about the comparison from last week to this week. “I think our guys just had a good week and wanted to keep playing.”

Quarterback John Reece McClure competed 13 of his 20 passes for 153 yards and threw for a touchdown pass. McClure also had a touchdown catch, yes, the quarterback had a touchdown catch. Late in the second quarter, junior safety C.J. Terrell was put in a formation at running back, keep in mind, Terrell started at quarterback when he was a freshman in 2014. McCure tossed the ball to Terrell and Terrell threw back to McClure wide open for a 17 yard touchdown pass.

Jaquan Webb led Oxford in receiving yards with 63 while getting three catches. Barry Flowers and Preston Perkins combined for eight catches and 66 receiving yards. Perkins caught a 15 yard touchdown pass to put Oxford up two scores 21-7 with 2:45 left in the second quarter.

Oxford’s ground game also rebounded with a great performance after getting a measly 43 yards last week. Oxford’s offensive line did a great job of blocking, allowing Hiram Wadlington and Lance Stewart run wild against Grenada’s tough defense.

“We have been more aggressive up front than in any game all year,” McCorkle said about his offense.

“I think we were able to run the football obviously a lot better then we did a week ago,” Cutcliffe said. “That was a big point of emphasis for us and I think that is what won the game for us.”

Wadlington carried the ball 27 times for 161 yards and scored two touchdowns on the ground. Stewart had nine carries, 67 yards rushing and a touchdown to ice the game late in the fourth quarter.

An Oxford defense that has impressed all season long continued to impress despite a slow start, allowing a 58 yard touchdown pass from C.J. Avery to Kevarius Brown early in the game. Oxford adjusted, and smothered Grenada’s rushing attack for pretty much the rest of the night. physicality was they key playing against talented Grenada athletes in the back field.

“We knew all week, that is all we talked about is that we have got to be more physical,” linebackers coach Bobby Sanders said. “That is their (Grenada’s) game is playing physical and we had to rise up to that and be as physical as they were.”

“They were a power offense. We knew we had to protect the gap, they were not going to run it outside,” D.Q. Thomas said. “Once we did that, everything was alright.”

Thomas led Oxford in tackles with 10, Thomas also blocked Grenada’s PAT to close out the first half. Jordan Carothers and Terrell each has nine tackles.

DeDe Pegues forced Oxford’s only takeaway, intercepting Avery’s deep pass late in the first quarter.

Extra Points

Turning Point:

After an exciting first half of play, Grenada received the ball to start the second half and drove to cut their 21-13 deficit. House broke off some big runs to get Grenada to Oxford’s 10 yard line. Oxford held firm, and forced Grenada to attempt a 27 yard field goal. Grenada’s kicker Trost made the field goal, he cut the Oxford lead to five points, 21-16. Trost’s field goal was a crack in the door for Grenada, Wadlington slammed that door shut on the next possession. Oxford decided to go for the first down on 4th and 1 from midfield midway through the third quarter. Wadlington found a wide open hole created by J.J. Pegues and Wadlington raced 45 yards for a touchdown. Oxford never looked back and never let up after that, they led 27-16 after the touchdown.

Playmaker:

After two sub-30 yard rushing performances, Wadlington went off to begin the playoffs. Wadlington had his best performance since October 21 against Clarksdale where he rushed for 120 yards. In this game, Wadlington averaged six yards a carry and was hard for Grenada’s defense to handle.

“I give all the credit to the O-Line, they came out and man-handled them, and allowed me to have some big runs and John Reece [McClure] to get some big throws,” Wadlington said.

Talking Point:

“I think we are going to be a different team than we were last time,” McCorkle said about the rematch awaiting them against West Point.

Notes:

  • Prior to kickoff, an American Flag painted helicopter descended on to the field to deliver the game ball
  • This win was the first time since 2004 that Oxford has beaten an opponent with a better record in the playoffs. Oxford (then 9-2) defeated the previously unbeaten Provine Rams 16-13 in 2004.
  • Oxford will rematch against the No. 1 seed West Point Green Wave in the second round of the 5A Playoffs. West Point won the regular season meeting 22-8 against Oxford

Contact Jared Redding at [email protected] or (662) 816-5733 or follow him on Twitter: @TheJaredRedding

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OHS knocks off Grenada, advances to second round playoffs