Oxford downs South Panola in high-scoring shootout

Published 11:19 pm Friday, September 2, 2022

Oxford football got back on track following their week one loss to Brandon on Friday as they defeated South Panola 43-34 in a high-scoring shootout.

The scoring came fast and furious in the first half as both teams were able to move the ball effectively through the air and on the ground.

The Chargers cracked the scoreboard first with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Mack Howard to Ashten Shorter, but the Tigers responded right back with a two-yard touchdown rush by quarterback David Hubbard late in the first quarter.

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“They’re a talented team—two really talented backs [a good] quarterback. Those guys are gonna get their yards,” said head coach Chris Cutcliffe.

Oxford running back Roman Gregory took over in the second quarter—breaking loose for three touchdowns in the period as he slashed through the Tigers’ defense with hard-nosed running and dynamic moves in space.

The senior tailback recorded his first score of the night early in the second quarter on a 10-yard touchdown reception that gave Oxford a 15-6 lead.

After South Panola scored to cut the deficit to three, Gregory found the end zone once again on a three-yard touchdown rush that pushed the lead to double-digits.

He added yet another score in the closing moments of the first half when he broke loose on a screen play and took it 53 yards to the house.

“Roman’s very dynamic, he’s very versatile—obviously running the football but he’s an excellent receiver—he can play slot receiver when needed. He’s just such a versatile player and he brings a lot to the table,” Cutcliffe said of Gregory’s performance.

The scoring slowed a bit in the third as both teams began to lock in defensively, but the deadlock was broken midway through the quarter when Howard found a wide-open Jack Harper in the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown pass.

Oxford doubled up the score on the Tigers minutes later as Gregory got loose once again—breaking off a 29-yard touchdown run on a broken play after he was nearly blown up in the backfield.

“I was just trying to make something out of nothing,” Gregory said. “It was a busted play so I was just trying to make a play.”

The Chargers appeared to have the game in hand late in the fourth quarter, but South Panola had other ideas as they put together a late rally in the closing minutes.

The Tigers nearly made it a one-possession game with two minutes remaining in regulation, but senior cornerback Ryan Kirkwood blocked his third extra point of the night to preserve the two-score advantage.

“I just felt I was hot and when you’re hot you just keep going so I was like ‘you know what why not get a third one?'” Kirkwood said.

The Chargers will be off next week before playing host to Lafayette in the Crosstown Classic on Sept. 16.