Oxford falls to Charleston in jamboree

Published 11:06 pm Friday, August 12, 2016

Some of it was expected. Some wasn’t.

With a first-year head coach, a host of fresh contributors and even some new uniforms, Oxford put its new look on display for the first time Friday against Charleston at Bobby Holcomb Field  in a tuneup for next week’s season opener at Southaven. The Chargers fell 14-7 in a two-quarter varsity scrimmage in the final game of the Oxford Jamboree.

The junior varsity teams followed with an extended-quarter scrimmage, which ended in a scoreless tie.

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The flow was expectedly choppy at times with some players getting their first dose of extended varsity action for Oxford coach Chris Cutcliffe, who’s taking over for the retired Johnny Hill while being tasked with finding other playmakers now that Jack Abraham, DK Metcalf and other significant members in what’s perhaps the most decorated senior class in program history are now gone.

But missed tackles by a defense that’s got more than half its starters back from last year’s Class 5A North Half title team and ball security were issues against Charleston that Cutcliffe said haven’t been in fall camp. Sophomore John Reece McClure, who’s following Abraham at quarterback, took his first varsity snaps, going 7 of 13 for 85 yards with a touchdown.

McClure also accounted for three of Oxford’s four turnovers, though the first of his two interceptions came after a pass went through his receiver’s hands on the Chargers’ second possession. McClure didn’t have much time to survey the field with his protection constantly breaking down as Charleston got to him for four sacks, the third one forcing a fumble early in the second quarter that the Tigers turned into the game’s first points 10 plays later when Tre Truly found DeQuan Street for a 22-yard touchdown pass on fourth and 17.

Junior running back Hiram Wadlington didn’t have much room to operate either, finishing with 29 yards on nine carries. Oxford had just 100 yards of total offense and compounded its problems with five penalties.

McClure came back two possessions later to find Barry Flowers deep across the middle for a 38-yard catch-and-run score — his longest completion of the night — to put the Chargers up 7-6 with 3:40 left. Charleston milked most of the remaining time with a seven-play, 70-yard drive aided by a pass interference penalty in Oxford territory to retake the lead on Dontarius Cosby’s 33-yard strike to A.J. Reed.

Truly ran in for the two-point conversion with 38 seconds remaining, and McClure’s final pass was picked off by Rickey Sutton two plays later as Oxford tried to quickly push the ball down the field. The Chargers forced a pair of turnovers of their own with DeChristian Cummings and Jamar James each recovering fumbles, but Oxford’s ensuing possessions ended in a turnover and a punt.

Oxford’s game against Southaven next Friday is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

See Sunday’s edition of the EAGLE for more from Friday’s game.