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Losing season ends with a win

Carrying the ball, Oxford’s Clayton Striker slips past an Oak Park defender. Photo by Dan Shriner. (click for larger version)
October 27, 2010 - It wasn't the kind of football season that the Oxford Wildcats are accustomed to but Bud Rowley's squad ended the year with a solid performance in the school's inaugural season in the Oakland Activities Association.

The Wildcats beat Oak Park, 52-28, in a game that was not decided until late in the fourth quarter when the Cats scored 23 points in the final six minutes of the game.

The team won its final two games of the year to finish at 3-6.

"It was a dog-eat-dog game right up until the last four minutes," Rowley said of the Oak Park meeting.

The coach praised the play of his seniors in their last game and thanked them for the sacrifices they made moving from the Flint Metro League to play in the tougher OAA White Division.

Senior Darren Lumpkin led the way for the Wildcats, scoring on runs of 87, 51, 67 and 3 yards to finish with 284 yards rushing on 23 carries. His totals came on the heels of a five-TD performance the week before.

The Wildcats needed everything that Lumpkin brought to overcome the performance of Knight quarterback Omar Hartland, who passed for 232 yards and made several long runs on scrambles to keep his team in the game.

Oxford took at 13-0 lead early in the game, getting TDs from Aaron Stuk of eight years and Lumpkin of three yards in the first quarter.

The Knights got the next two scores and led 14-13.

Oak Park appeared headed for another score when Sean Beane recovered a fumble on the Cat's 13.

Lumpkin then took off on an 87-yard score. Following a two-point conversion, the Cats led 21-14 with 4:49 before halftime.

Knight QB Hartland connected on an 18-yard pass with 3:31 left in the half. A two-point conversion gave Oak Park a 22-21 lead at the half.

Hartland passed for 193 yards in the first half but finished with only 232 after the Wildcat defense toughened in the second half.

Hartland scored on a 37-yard run in the third quarter to give the Knights a 28-21 lead.

Lumpkin answered with his 51-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter. Following John Kitchner's conversion, the score was tied at 28.

Three minutes later, Lumpkin again took off on a 67-yard run to give the Cats a 35-28 lead with 6:34 left.

A fumble recovery by the Wildcats led to a 21-yard TD run by Oxford quarterback Vito Giannola with 5:27 remaining.

Daniel "Daisy" Strzelecki and Beane then caught Hartland in the end zone for a safety to give the Cats a 42-28 lead with 5:27 left.

The Oxford secondary defense was strong in the final quarter, limiting the kind of damage that Hartland had inflicted in the first three quarters.

Oxford was driving toward the goal late in the game and was down to the Knight three-yard line with less than 30 seconds left. Giannola knelt down to run out the clock but the Knight defense called a timeout.

So, with one play remaining, Giannola lobbed a TD pass to Matt Economu for the final TD of the season. Kitchner's conversion made the final score, 51-28.

Oxford finished with 363 rushing yards and 89 passing.

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