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Oxford tops Columbus to keep pace in 1-6A

COLUMBUS — Once again Oxford’s defense shined and once again the Chargers came out on top.

In a crucial Region 1-6A match up for both teams Oxford defeated Columbus 17-7 at the Columbus Sports Complex on Friday. The win kept the Chargers in the playoff hunt while Columbus’ chances of the postseason were all but dashed.

With three interceptions and a fumble recovery Oxford (7-3, 3-2 Region 1-6A) pestered Columbus’ offense who could never get anything going. Two drives ended deep in Oxford territory when DaDa Parham and C.J. Terrell picked off errant passes near the end zone.

During this three-game winning streak Oxford has allowed only two touchdowns in 12 quarters of play.

“Defensively we’ve been pretty consistent all season,” Oxford head coach Chris Cutcliffe said. “I’ve been really prepared of how our guys have prepared week in and week out. It’s a great credit to our defensive coaching staff.”

The defense had to step up as Oxford’s offense got off a slow start.

The first half possessions for the Chargers resulted in five punts a touchdown and an interception. The lone score in the first half came off a 20-yard run by J.J. Pegues late in the opening quarter. Beyond that it was a sloppy first half for both offenses.

“In this win it wasn’t always pretty but at the end of the day at this time of the year we came down with the mindset of whatever it takes to get a win,” Cutcliffe said.

With a 7-0 lead coming out of halftime Oxford went with what worked in the first quarter, a heavy does of Pegues.

In the Charger’s first possession of the second half Pegues ran the offense and carried the ball on every play except for one. Pegues rushed for 41 yards in the drive which lead to freshman kicker Jack Tannehill converting a 25-yard field goal try to give Oxford a 10-0 lead.

On Oxford’s next drive Pegues would once again find the end zone with a five-yard rush for the Chargers final score of the game.

Pegues finished with 11 carries for 82 yards and two touchdowns.

“We hoped that getting in a little bit of a heavy set with J.J. running we thought we could out-physical them a bit,” Cutcliffe said. “We were able to that. (Columbus) is a very fast defense and they gave us some issues with their team speed. That was definitely a success for us.”

Quarterback John Reece McClure completed seven of 22 passes for 65 yards and one interception. Senior running back Hiram Wadlington ended the night with 57 yards on 14 carries.

Wilfawn ejected

In a scary moment near the end of the game Oxford linebacker Quentin Wilfawn collided with Columbus’ Jervorius Vance while attempting to deflect a pass. Vance crumbled to the ground and did not move upon hitting the grass. An ambulance came and took Vance to a nearby hospital where he was later airlifted to Jackson.

Wilfawn was ejected after the play for targeting. He will not have to sit out next week against Hernando.

Once play resumed with 95 seconds left Columbus got on the board with a four-yard run by Patrick Jackson for the final margin.