Oxford survives for key road win at Hernando
By Ben Mikell
HERNANDO – Nerves of steel. The Oxford Chargers had it, the Hernando Tigers did not.
Oxford survives a late 42-yard field goal attempt by Brandon Boren that sailed wide left after Oxford quarterback John Meagher scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 3 yard run with 31 seconds left to defeat Hernando 23-22 at Anthony Jenkins Field.
Oxford coach Chris Cutcliffe believed it was the mental mindset of his team believing they could win all night long that held true once again.
“We have a group of guys that care a lot about each other and they play for each other and they work hard together year-round for moments like this,” Cutcliffe said. “I think they have confidence when they get into those close games in the fourth quarter because they believe in each other.”
Leadership down the stretch has also been key for Oxford (8-2, 5-1 in 1-6A), something that Hernando (3-7, 1-5) has struggled with throughout region play with close losses to Tupelo, Desoto Central, and Southaven in division play.
“(Meagher) is obviously a tremendous leader and we had a lot of guys stepping up,” Cutcliffe said. “Tank (Byron Pearson) making plays everywhere. Dede Pegues was huge tonight as a senior leader of our receiving group. John, the moment never gets too big for him. He is always a calm, cool, and collected guy and ready to go play. That’s something I’m proud of.”
Trailing 22-17 with 2:36 left in the contest, Meagher helped orchestrate a nine-play 56-yard drive, including converting a fourth-and-three to keep the drive alive, that ended with a 3-yard Meagher touchdown run. The two-point conversion failed to keep just a one point advantage.
Hernando converted a 38-yard pass play from quarterback Dylan Faulk to receiver Kelly Smith to get it to Oxford’s 25, but not close enough as the field goal was short and left to preserve the victory.
Meagher was 18-for-33 for 192 yards with three total touchdowns including the go-ahead score on the ground. Dede Pegues had five receptions for 80 yards and two touchdowns. Dylan Faulk for Hernando finished 15-for-28 for 151 yards and two touchdowns passing. Hernando running back Laddarion Darden rushed 17 times for a game-high 80 yards and a touchdown.