CLINTON • The Oxford Chargers have found the knack for making the play at the most opportune time all season long.
For the sixth time this season Oxford had to come back from a second-half deficit, defeating Clinton 31-27, and earning the chance to defend its Class 6A title in Jackson on Friday.
The Chargers (12-0) will play Oak Grove in a 7 p.m. game.
“That was a heck of a ballgame,” Oxford coach Chris Cutcliffe said. “Clinton’s a really good football team.
“It was just back and forth all night and we were able to make enough plays in the end to get it done.”
His team sealed the victory with a turnover on downs at its own 25-yard-line with 27 seconds left.
Big plays on defense were huge for the Chargers, who got a 20-yard interception return for a touchdown by Tristan Shorter and a 10-yard scoop-and-score fumble recovery by Alex Sanford.
Offensively, it was on the shoulders of Omar Howell, who gave Oxford the go-ahead score with 3:03 left. With Roman Gregory out, Howell knew it was on him.
“He knew that more was going to fall on his plate,” said Cutcliffe. “Cam McJunkins came in and got us a few carries here and there, Jay Wortham came in and got us a few carries, but Omar did a great job of stepping up and being the man.”
Wortham also had a touchdown reception from quarterback Michael Harvey to cut the Clinton lead to 20-17 with 4:19 left in the third quarter.
For the host Arrows (10-3), Caleb Miller finished 13 for 29 for 236 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions. He also carried the ball 26 times for 126 yards and another touchdown.
Turning Point: Jamarri Sims stripped Clinton quarterback Caleb Miller and Sanford scooped and scored to give Oxford a 24-20 lead.
Point Man: Omar Howell rushed 30 times for a career-high 211 yards and a touchdown.
Talking Point: “Omar is a physical runner, he’s a guy that is harder to tackle as the game goes on and I was really proud with how he played.” – Cutcliffe