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Cats come close, but Dragons deal defeat

Oxford's Ben Line fought hard for every yard. He had 132 rushing yards on 27 carries and scored a touchdown. Photo by Dan Shriner. (click for larger version)

Oxford's Ben Line fought hard for every yard. He had 132 rushing yards on 27 carries and scored a touchdown. Photo by Dan Shriner. (click for larger version)
September 04, 2013 - There is little consolation when one team outplays the other but still loses the game.

The Oxford faithful may have believed they outplayed rival Lake Orion in a game that began on Friday and ended on Saturday and there are statistics that show that may be the truth. The Wildcats dominated time of possession, first downs and led in total yardage for the game.

Unfortunately, for Oxford, the Dragons made some big plays by their top seniors and won, 35-30.

The game was interrupted on Friday when a thunderstorm came through and officials opted to continue play on Saturday afternoon. At the time of the delay, Oxford and Lake Orion were tied 14-14.

During the first half, the Wildcats dominated time of possession, with their offense on the field for 18 of the game's first 24 minutes.

Coach Bud Rowley told his team they played well but didn't stop a couple of Lake Orion's big plays.

"We have nothing to complain about. We have a good team. They won and that's it," Rowley said.

The Wildcats scored first on a 19-play drive, capped by a short touchdown run by John Patrick that gave Oxford a 7-0 lead in the second quarter.

The Dragons responded, however, mounting their own 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive, with senior slot back Chris Leigh scoring from 14 yards out to tie the game with a little more than two minutes left before halftime.

But the Wildcats started their next possession at their own 40-yard-line and scored with only 18 seconds left in the half when quarterback Glacier Wallington scrambled and found a Mith Tilley alone for a 30-yard touchdown pass, giving the home team a 14-7 lead at the half.

Wallington was the best player on the field for either team and kept the Wildcats in the contest right to the end.

Lake Orion opened the second half with an eight-play scoring drive. Senior Connor Grant threw his first touchdown pass of the season - a 41-yard strike to senior Zak Arnold to knot the game at 14 apiece.

Shortly after the touchdown, referees called a halt to the game due to lightning. After more than an hour delay, the officials opted to continue the game on Saturday.

Oxford opened up the game on Saturday with a scoring drive that resulted in a field goal by Aaron Johnston to give the Cats a 17-14 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Wildcat defenders fell for a trick play in which the receiver faked a handoff to the right side and then turned and ran around to the left sideline for a 90-yard TD run.

The Dragons scored again to take a 28-17 lead with 11:44 left in the game.

The Wallington-led offense came back with a long drive culminated by an 11-yard touchdown by Ben Line. The two-point conversion failed and Oxford trailed 28-23 with 6:07 left.

The Wildcats seemed to be in great spot to stop Lake Orion when the Dragons faced a third down and 15 on its own 16 yard line. That's when the Dragons came up with a big play.

Senior quarterback Connor Grant lobbed a pass over the middle to Chris Leigh, broke a couple of tackles and ended up going 52 yards to the Oxford 33.

Three plays later, Leigh scored from 10 yards out to give Lake Orion a 35-23 lead with 2:27 remaining.

Wallington's Wildcats came roaring back again with the junior quarterback completing a TD drive by running 11 yards with 49 seconds remaining. A conversion kick by Johnston narrowed the lead to 35-30.

The Wildcats then pounced on an onside kick and it looked like they may get the comeback win.

Wallington was sacked while scrambling and the Dragons intercepted a desperation pass with only nine seconds remaining.

Oxford finished with 28 first downs to Lake Orion's 16. They outrushed the Dragons 206 to 195 and had one more yard passing, 113-112.

Wallington ran for 122 yards and Line had 132 rushing yards on 27 carries.

Oxford hosts Birmingham on Friday at 7 p.m.

Former Leader Editor Dan Shriner will cover Wildcat football this season.
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