Oxford uses strong defense to withstand heat, Lafayette for Crosstown Classic victory
Published 10:41 pm Friday, August 25, 2023
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By Jake Thompson
For the first time in over 30 years Oxford and Lafayette kicked off the football season with the 52nd annual Crosstown Classic.
With returning faces along the Commodores sideline it felt like a new era in the rivalry but the home team did not ease into it smoothly with the Chargers dominating for the 42-7 win at William L. Buford Stadium on Friday.
Under the shadow of a scorching sun that had the heat index into the triple digits at kickoff both teams were battle the extreme conditions to start their respective 2023 campaigns.
“I was really pleased with how we held up,” said Oxford head coach Chris Cutcliffe. “I think it’s a credit to our guys and the way they prepared through the offseason and the way we practice. We try to make sure we’re ready for nights like this. We know they’re going to come.”
Through the first quarter the game had the feel of the opening game of the season with both teams punting and exchanging defensive stands.
What became the turning point in the game was the turnover battle that the Chargers (1-0) took advantage of and the Commodores (0-1) were not able to get out from under of. Oxford’s smothering defense had four takeaways.
One of those was a 50-yard pick-six by Colin Flanagan that put Oxford up 22-0 midway through the second quarter.
“I thought we did a nice job,” Cutcliffe said of his defense. “We contained their rushing attack and we gave up a couple of explosive (plays), couple passes here and there but they have good players and that stuff’s going to happen. But for the most part I thought we played really well.”
Offensively Oxford looked solid led by the brothers Grandjean at quarterback. Both Mitchell and Peter Grandjean got reps and at times alternated series. They combined for 74 passing yards and one touchdown, thrown by Peter.
The Chargers rushing attack accounted for 182 yards and three touchdowns. Jamarion Pegues led the ground game with 67 yards and one of those rushing touchdowns. Jay Brown finished with a touchdown and 39 yards.
Friday was not one of celebration for the Commodores and Anthony Hart’s return as the head coach.
After the slow-start to the first quarter by both teams it was Lafayette that could never get out of the blocks once the Chargers started to find the end zone in the second quarter.
“We do feel like we made a lot of mistakes,” Hart said. “Played a good team and you play good teams they make you pay for mistakes and they did. If we were out there by ourselves we wouldn’t make those mistakes. Hats off to them and we’re going to be good. We just got a little growing pains we got to overcome, but we’ve had good work.”
Lafayette’s lone score was a 30-yard pass from quarterback Nick Thompson to Dee Gipson with 34 seconds left in the first half.
Both teams are on the road in week two with Oxford traveling west on Highway 6 to Batesville and South Panola while Lafayette heads to DeSoto County to take on Horn Lake.