By Ben Mikell, Sports Writer
The Clarksdale Wildcats did what no Division 1-5A team has done, including West Point, since before quarterback Jack Abraham started for the Oxford Chargers two seasons ago: Win the first quarter.<>
That, and winning the coin toss, were the only things they won Friday night.
After Clarksdale went up by one with a touchdown on the Wildcats' opening drive, countering
Oxford's two field goals in the first quarter, the Chargers countered with 40 straight points en route to a 53-13 win at Bobby Holcomb Field. The victory garnered a spot in the MHSAA Class 5A playoffs for the Chargers, with two regular season games left.
Oxford (7-2 overall, 5-0 in 1-5A) turned the momentum of the game for good after Clarksdale (6-4, 3-2) went for it on fourth-and-1 up 7-6 on the Charger's 36-yard-line with 9:44 left in the second quarter. Wildcat running back Davion Hill was stuffed at the line of scrimmage and driven backwards.
Up until that point, Oxford coach Johnny Hill thought that Davion Hill was doing a good job of being physical and using the back's size to the Wildcat's advantage. The Oxford defense struggled to contain the running back early.
“They did a really good job of cramming it down our throat basically,” Johnny Hill said. “We missed some tackles. I don't think we were geared up to hit that big back like that. He's a load, he's a good running back, but we adapted and adjusted. Our defensive coaches made some good adjustments up there and we were able to get them off the field and our offense got to clicking.”
Oxford started clicking on offense behind the play of Abraham, who hooked up with Jimmy Greaser for a 26-yard touchdowns to garner a 13-7 lead the Chargers would not relinquish. It came four plays after the turnover on downs. The Chargers' offense clicked the rest of the game, scoring touchdowns on seven straight possessions, including three straight one-play possessions to end the first half.
Johnny Hill thought the fourth-and-1 stop by his defense gave energy to the offense to be its normal self after finishing with field goals the first two drives of the game. He also thought Clarksdale came ready to play, bending but not breaking, early on defense and that the two successful field goals the Chargers made will help in the long run.
“Give Clarksdale credit, they've got a good defense,” Hill said. “They did some good things over there. We did score every time we had the ball. We kicked field goals and we needed to do that. That was good, too.”
Defensive coordinator Steve Herring thought the stop didn't necessarily turn the game completely around, but it gave his defense a much needed confidence boost that his players could get off the field on third and fourth down. Herring felt it allowed them to play hard the remainder of the game.
“We needed a little bit of confidence that we could stop somebody on a fourth down,” Herring said on his team's struggles to get off the field. “Our biggest problem all year is getting off the field on third down. That (fourth-and-one play) was big and it probably turned the game around. It was big for us from a confidence standpoint knowing that we could get off the field there. I thought after that moment, we played a lot harder and did some good things.”
Hiram Wadlington rushed 12 times for 67 yards and his first two rushing touchdowns on the season ... Neither team turned the ball over during the game … Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze was in attendance to watch Ole Miss commit DK Metcalf … Metcalf finished with just two receptions for 36 yards, but hje had a rushing touchdown … Clarksdale's Davion Hill was responsible for all 13 Clarksdale points, including kicking the extra point, but also had two of his punts blocked as the punter.