Oxford misses out on playoff berth after loss to Madison Central in season finale
Published 8:50 am Friday, November 4, 2022
By Jake Thompson
The farewell season in Class 6A ended prematurely for Oxford on Thursday after suffering a 56-43 loss at the hands of Madison Central at Bobby Holcomb Field.
After learning earlier in the day they were officially one of the 24 schools who will make up the inaugural Class 7A next fall, the Chargers went to work to try and earn their fifth straight berth into the Class 6A postseason.
It was not to be in a game where points were not at a premium and the scoreboard struggled to keep up with the pace on the field.
Offense was the name of the game and for most of the night it was a back-and-forth affair of a heavyweight fight between to 2-6A heavyweights.
Unfortunately for Oxford (5-5, 3-4) it is the Jaguars (7-3, 5-2) who will continue its season next week while the Chargers enter the offseason earlier than they are used to. It is the first time since 2011 that Oxford has finished with a .500 or worse overall record and a losing record in region play.
“We tell them all the time you’re defined by a lot more than just a scoreboard and the things you learn from playing this game, the things you learn from being a part of team stick with you the rest of your life,” said Oxford head coach Chris Cutcliffe of the message to his team.
The Chargers were essentially in playoff mode for the past two weeks after suffering a 47-28 loss vs. Starkville on Oct. 21. A win at Grenada last week kept playoff hopes alive but a win on Thursday was needed.
Scoring started early as the Chargers found the end zone on their first possession off a 61-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Mack Howard to Dane Harmon.
A successful two-point conversion put Oxford up 8-0 and proved crucial for most of the first half. The Chargers then went up 15-0 after scoring a second touchdown in as many drives.
Things looked like it could be Oxford’s night on Senior Night as it was the aggressor in the early stages of the game.
But Madison Central did not go away.
Quarterback and tight end Jake Norris was a monster for the Jaguars and put the offense on his back for most of the game. The senior was responsible for four of the eight Jaguar touchdowns.
If Norris was not giving the Oxford defense fits it was the other senior quarterback in Vic Sutton. The Jaguars found success with a two-quarterback offense.
“They’ve done that the past several weeks,” Cutcliffe said. “Both guys have different skillsets bit they do a lot of the same things regardless of who’s in the game. They have a lot of good players on offense and obviously we didn’t get enough stops tonight.”
Howard and the Charger offense tried to keep pace and hold serve to match Madison Central score for score in the second half.
Unfortunately the Jaguars defense found key stops when they needed two with a handful of sacks on Howard and an interception late in the third quarter that led to a touchdown.
In his final game as a Charger Howard finished with three passing touchdowns while senior running back Roman Gregory capped his Oxford career with a pair of rushing touchdowns.
The Charger defense also got in on the scoring as senior linebacker Martavious Blackmon had a 66-yard pick-six in the second quarter.
“We executed at a high level, offensively, for the most part,” Cutcliffe said. “We got in situations at the end where they knew we were throwing the football and we had a little bit of a hard time protecting the quarterback. Give them a lot of credit and I’ve got to do a better job of helping us play better defensively. Got to get stops.”
When Oxford takes the field next it will be in August as a member of the the new MHSAA Class 7A.