September 18, 2013 - Three weeks into the season and the Oxford Wildcats are looking at an uphill battle to challenge for a state playoff berth.
Oxford's Ben Line battles for every yard against Harrison defenders. Photos by Dan Shriner. (click for larger version)
While Coach Bud Rowley acknowledged to his team that their backs are against the wall, he is confident they will rebound from a tough 28-25 loss last week to Farmington Hills Harrison.
"We are good," Rowley said. "We are going to the playoffs."
The loss dropped the Wildcats to 1-3 and 1-1 in the OAA White Division. They will host Farmington at 7 p.m. on Friday in the annual homecoming match.
Oxford will need at least six wins to qualify for a state playoff spot. Seven wins guarantees a spot. They have tough games against Adams, Southfield, Oak Park coming up.
Harrison is always a tough team but it was a hard-fought game at Farmington Hills that could have gone either way.
Oxford scored first in the game with a career-long 43-year-old field goal by Aaron Johnston with 8:41 left in the first quarter.
The Hawks answered with a three-yard TD at the 3:20 mark. The Wildcats answered two minutes later with a one-yard score by Ben Line to put Oxford up 10-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Harrison connected on two touchdowns in the second quarter. The first was on a one-yard run and the second was on a 49-yard TD pass to give the Hawks a 21-10 lead at halftime.
Oxford relied on two big plays in the second half to make the game a nail-biter.
The Wildcats' Glacier Wallington connected on his only completion of the night on a quick pass to Mitchel Tilley who outran all defenders 67 yards for a score with 8:37 left in the third quarter. Oxford trailed at the end of the third quarter, 21-17
Harrison scored its only TD of the second half at the 8:10 mark of the fourth quarter to take a 28-17 advantage.
Three minutes later Wallington slipped around the left side for a 56-yard touchdown run. After a two-point conversion by John Patrick, Oxford trailed, 28-25 with 5:06 left in the game.
The Wildcats got the ball back in good field position at their own 36 with less than two minutes left in the game and moved the ball past midfield.
Unfortunately, the Cats could not make a final push against the Hawks and lost the ball on downs with only a few seconds remaining.
Harrison finished with 318 yards of total offense compared to Oxford's 239. The Wildcats had only 67 yards passing on the one completion to Tilley. Harrison had 141 yards through the air.
Wallington finished with 69 yards rushing while Line had 63.
Wesley Maskill led the defense with six solo tackles and seven assists.
Homecoming is Friday!
Don't look now, but Oxford's homecoming game is Friday, Sept. 20.
Don't miss all the bone-crunching action as the Wildcats host Farmington High School at 7 p.m.
The annual homecoming parade is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.
As always, the parade route will run from Mill St. to East St. to N. Glaspie St., which becomes N. Oxford Rd. The parade ends at Oxford High School.
Look for tons of photos next week.
Former Leader Editor Dan Shriner will cover Wildcat football this season.