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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

VIDEO Blog: Oxford advances to 5A state championship

BLOG — A historic win has given Oxford an opportunity to play for it all.

Running back Kenzie Phillips scored a pair of touchdowns, quarterback Jack Abraham threw for another, and Oxford’s defense came up with more than enough big plays to help the Chargers advance to next weekend’s Class 5A state championship game with a 23-7 victory over Jackson-Callaway Friday night at Bobby Holcomb Field.

The win ran the Chargers’ record to 14-0, the first time an Oxford team has ever won that many games in a season.

“It’s fun. They’re a great group of guys, and we’re just enjoying the ride,” Oxford coach Johnny Hill said.

Callaway, which sported four Ole Miss verbal commitments on its roster, was thought to be Oxford’s stiffest competition in the North, but the only difference in how Oxford defeated Callaway as opposed to the rest of its opponents was that Oxford didn’t turn the victory into a rout.

Callaway’s Chargers were able to hang around with a defense that buckled down in the second half, limiting Oxford to 125 yards after yielding 248 yards in the first two quarters, but Oxford’s defense was nearly impossible to penetrate from the start.

Eliminating Callaway’s running game — the visitors finished with just 28 yards on the ground — Oxford made Callaway one-dimensional and sat back waiting for the pass. Oxford’s secondary feasted, intercepting three combined passes from Callaway quarterbacks Chris Mitchell and T.J. Washington as part of a five-takeaway night.

It was the exact defensive game plan Oxford wanted to implement, and as a result, Callaway mustered just 135 total yards.

“It was a credit to the secondary to man up and go one-on-one with them guys,” Hill said. “We said, ‘Throw it if you want to,’ but we weren’t going to let them run.

“They pull everybody to the kitchen sink on some of them sweeps, and they’ll outnumber you. Doing it the way we did, they didn’t outnumber us.”

Oxford also made Callaway go to the air a little quicker than it wanted to by putting the Chargers in an early hole. Phillips, who churned out 96 yards on 25 carries, capped a six-play, 54-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run on Oxford’s second possession to give Oxford a 7-0 lead less than seven minutes in. Abraham extended the lead with his arm on the Chargers’ next drive, fitting a pass between a pair of Callaway defenders into Joey Walden for 19 of his 276 passing yards to put Oxford on top 14-0 with 2:35 left in the opening quarter.

Callaway’s lone highlight came after halftime on a 44-yard punt return from Ole Miss commit Dayall Harris to set up Washington’s 1-yard sneak, cutting Oxford’s lead in half midway through the third quarter. But Callaway’s next three possessions ended with a fumble, a punt and an interception, respectively, with Oxford adding a 26-yard field goal from Cody Mills and a 4-yard touchdown run from Phillips in between.

Oxford will get South champion Picayune, a 35-28 winner over Laurel, in the 5A title game on Dec. 7 in Jackson. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

“We’re not done yet,” Abraham said. “We’re going to try and get that ring.”

Check out Oxford being presented with the 5A North Half championship trophy and what Hill had to say to his squad following tonight’s win in the video below.

Now watch linebacker Mike McGhee talk about what made the defense so effective in shutting Callaway down and the opportunity to play for a state championship.

See Monday’s edition of the EAGLE for complete coverage from Friday night’s game. (November 30, 2013)

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