End of the line for Cats' magical season
November 02, 2011 - Even though Oxford fell short in its state playoff effort, Coach Bud Rowley knew his group had a magical season.
Oxford’s Prescott Line (#42) dives over teammate Andrew Davis to make a TD.
Photo by Dan Shriner. (click for larger version)
The Wildcats lost on Friday, 26-20, to Rochester Adams to finish the season at 7-3 and erase any lingering speculation from last year about whether the school belonged in the more competitive Oakland Activities Association.
The Wildcats finished second in the White Division behind undefeated and defending state champion Farmington Hills Harrison.
They improved from last season's 3-6 record and made teams throughout the conference understand that playing Oxford meant they were going to face a hard-nosed and gritty bunch of football players and were going to get beat up physically despite the outcome of the game.
"We had great leadership, a great ride and a great season," Rowley said "But, we came up short tonight on both sides of the ball."
The loss also meant the end of the career of senior Prescott Line, who established himself as the likely winner of Michigan's Mr. Football, which is an unofficial recognition of the state's best football player.
Line will attend Southern Methodist University next season, where his brother Zach, also plays.
Line ran for 206 yards and two touchdowns against the Highlanders. On the season, he finished with 2,478 yards rushing and 37 touchdowns.
On defense, Line also was spectacular, leading the defense with more than 140 tackles. In his final game, he also added a blocked kick to his resume by knocking down an Adams extra point attempt.
On Friday, the Wildcats got into a hole early against Adams, going down by two touchdowns before rallying late in the second quarter with two quick scores to tie the game at 14-14 at the intermission.
The Cats made one great goal line stand early in the second quarter and stopped the Highlanders less than two yards from the end zone. Oxford's offense didn't get any momentum and the Cats had to punt.
Adams quarterback Tony Annese then had a 44-yard run to the Cat's two before scoring on the next play to send stake the Highlanders to a 14-0 lead.
Senior Anthony Cappuccilli gave Oxford some momentum with a 50-yard kickoff return and the offense then put together a sustained drive with Line scoring from the one with 2:24 left in the half.
On the first play for Adams following the touchdown, Marty Giannola forced a fumble and Tyler Huncusker recovered on the 24 yard line.
The Wildcats then marched in for the score with Line going the final two yards with 36.7 seconds left. John Kitchner's extra point tied the game at 14-14.
The Wildcats took a 20-14 lead with 2:26 left in the third quarter when quarterback Glacier Wallington faked a handoff to Line and ran a bootleg around the left side and went 17 yards untouched for a score.
The score was set up when Annese fumbled and it was recovered by Cappuccilli
The extra point was blocked but it gave Oxford a 20-14 lead.
The Highlanders came back on a 33-yard TD pass from Annesse that came on a fourth-and-8. The extra point was wide and the score was tied at 20-20 at the end of the third quarter.
Penalties and turnovers hurt the Wildcats in the final quarter but Adams' winning TD drive came on an unlikely 99-yard drive.
Kitchner had a beautiful punt that was downed inside the one-yard line, before the Highlanders moved down the field. The big play in the drive was a 35-yard pass completion that came on a desperate throw by a backup quarterback.
Annese had left the game momentarily with an injury but came back into the game and scored on a four yard run with 5:54 left in the game.
Line then blocked the extra point attempt, which meant the Cats only needed to score and get a conversion to win the game.
On Oxford's ensuing possession, Wallington was sacked on a pass attempt and fumbled.
The Wildcats got the ball back when Annese fumbled on Oxford's 40 and it was recovered by Matt Economou with 3:38 left.
Oxford couldn't make one final drive to win the game as Annese intercepted a pass with 2:23 left in the game to end the Cat's season.
Former Leader Editor Dan Shriner will cover Wildcat football this season.