Crosstown Classic an instant classic with big-fight feel

Published 11:14 pm Friday, September 7, 2018

Rocky Balboa could not have rope-a-doped better than Oxford did on Friday night.

The Chargers stepped into the ring that was Bobby Holcomb Field and went toe-to-toe against a Lafayette team that many felt was the superior team. In the 47th edition of the Crosstown Classic, Oxford took everything the Commodores could throw at them and emerged the victor in an instant classic that had a prizefight feel.

From the opening kickoff, the Chargers showed they were worthy of being on the same stage as a Lafayette team that looked unbeatable the first three weeks of the season.

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“It was two good football teams and it was a physical game,” Oxford head coach Chris Cutcliffe said. “There’s been a lot of lopsided games (in the series) the last eight or ten years. This was kind of back to the classic games that I played in, in the past.”

Oxford’s 29-27 win was the closest margin of victory in the series since Lafayette’s 29-28 win in 2006. It was also only the fourth game since 2006 to be decided by less than 10 points.

For four quarters Oxford and Lafayette traded body blows. The Commodores got their jabs in, rushing for 323 yards and four touchdowns but Oxford absorbed every shot and stayed on their feet long enough to deliver the knockout blow themselves.

“We had some big stops when we needed to,” Cutcliffe said. “That’s a good rushing attack and we knew that coming in but I think we had the key stops in the second half when we needed them.”

Two weeks ago Oxford looked like a team that was knocked out after taking a pummeling from Starkville in the Little Egg Bowl. Then last week the Chargers got back up and defeated Grenada handily. Withstanding Lafayette and staying on their feet on Friday could be just enough to jump start the Chargers’ season with one more game before Region 1-6A play begins.

Lafayette, who was the odds-on favorite to emerge victorious, is now the team who must dust themselves off and get off the mat before their Region 1-5A opener at No. 4 West Point in two weeks.

“We came in and our guys are a confident bunch, but we didn’t make the plays,” Lafayette head coach Michael Fair said. “I think it’s going to wake us up and make us get back to work.”