Chargers get their long-awaited Little Egg Bowl Rematch

Published 7:09 am Friday, November 29, 2019

August seems oh so long in the past, but not for the Oxford Chargers football team – Aug. 30 is still in the forefront of their minds.

Oxford went to Starkville in the second week of the year, losing an ugly 45-17 football game. It’s the team’s only loss in 2019. Friday night, in the north-half final from Oxford, they get a chance to revenge that game, which has been stuck in the back of their heads for months.

“We knew we were going to get them again,” senior JJ Pegues said. “Coaches have mentioned the last time we beat them, a while ago. (Head coach Chris Cutcliffe) said this senior class is one of the best he’s ever had, and that we’ve got a good chance to break that run.”

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The August meeting actually wasn’t quite as ugly as the final score may suggest. Starkville jumped out to a 24-0 lead to start, but Oxford pulled to 24-17 in the third quarter before things spiraled in Yellowjacket favor.

Clearly, a 28-point defeat is a team effort and not all on one player. That said, Oxford senior quarterback John Meager is quick to bear a good bit of the burden. That August game was one of his worst of the season. Meagher completed just 39 percent of his passes and threw three interceptions in the first Little Egg Bowl of 2019, the final of which essentially iced the Oxford comeback bid down seven in the late third quarter.

It’s on his mind, but he also knows that game has no bearing on what happens this Friday night.

“We were all excited when we saw it would be Starkville. We all knew right after that we wanted that game back,” Meagher said. “There’s a lot that I could learn from that game. The interceptions really put us in a bind and I have to improve on that.”

The August meeting is the one on the team’s mind, but it’s simply been tough sledding against the Yellowjackets this entire decade. Oxford hasn’t beaten Starkville since 2013, losing the last six in a row.

But now, late November, none of that really matters anymore. The team’s approaching this like it’s a single game, but it’s a single game with implications.

2019 has seen a lot of firsts come for the Oxford football program. Three weeks ago, the Chargers clinched their first 6A region title with a road win over Tupelo. Friday night’s game will be the team’s first 6A North-half appearance. With a win, they’d not only break their Starkville curse, but play in their first 6A state championship game.

“Honestly, at this point in the season, it doesn’t matter who you play. They’re all going to be really good. …It’s going to take our best game of the season in the north-half, and it’s certainly someone we know really well,” Cutcliffe said. “It’s a rivalry game and to have it be played the day after the Egg Bowl is a neat thing. But for us, honestly, at this time of the year, we’re just trying to have our best game of the season, regardless of who we’re playing.”

Ole Miss travels to Starkville on Thursday evening. Starkville travels to Oxford just over 24 hours later. The Little Egg Bowl rematch will take place at Bobby Holcomb Field Friday night at 7 p.m.