Oxford defeats Avon Grove, 38-28
● By Lev
By Steven Hoffman
Ryan Hubley was once again Green’s favorite target, hauling in 12 catches for 145 yards, including a spectacular 15-yard touchdown grab in the corner of the end zone on a play in which Avon Grove was flagged for pass interference trying to prevent the reception. That play gave Oxford a 6-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
Green threw a 25-yard touchdown to wide receiver Josh Mosley later in the second quarter, making it 14-0.
Avon Grove had a hard time mounting sustained drives against Oxford’s defense, but they were able to turn in some big plays. On a third-and-long situation from their own 39
Avon Grove quarterback Shane McLaughlin found JJ Moroz for a 28-yard gain. Two plays later, and after a holding penalty on Avon Grove, McLaughlin tossed a screen pass to running back Nate Jones. The standout sophomore eluded tacklers, found running room, and raced 45 yards into the end zone for the score. Even though Oxford had dominated much of the first half action, Avon Grove was suddenly behind just 14-7 with 1:19 left to play in the first half.
One minute and nineteen seconds is a long time for Oxford’s high-octane offense. Green connected on four straight passes, all for short gains, as Oxford moved the ball to midfield. Then Green fired a pass to Hubley, who had a step on the defender. Hubley ran down the right sideline for a 48-yard score. On the two-point conversion try, Connor Hilaman made a nice catch in the back of the end zone, making it 22-7 at the end of the first half.
Oxford added to the lead early in the third, capitalizing after Avon Grove turned the ball over on downs at their own ten-yard line. Green found Hubley for an eight-yard gain, then running back Tim Davis scored from two yards out. Normally, Oxford running back Zach Deasey might have gotten the call on a play close to the goal line, but he sustained a cut early in the game that required stitches. All Davis did was step in and run for 149 yards and score two touchdowns. The sophomore’s contributions were important to Oxford’s win, because even though the Hornets led 30-7 at one point in the third quarter, Avon Grove was going to mount a comeback.
That comeback started with 3:43 left in the third when McLaughlin threw a pass to Jones. The sensational sophomore used his elusiveness and speed to break away from the pack and he ran down the right sideline for a 75-yard score.
Oxford answered right back. Davis took advantage of some good blocking up front and he found a hole and raced 60 yards for a touchdown. Green ran the ball in himself on the two-point conversion, making the score 38-14.
McLaughlin connected with junior wide receiver Henry Buchanan on a 59-yard pass play that set up Jones’ third touchdown of the game. It was 38-20 heading to the fourth quarter.
The offensive fireworks of the second and third quarter transitioned into a battle for field position as both defenses clamped down in the fourth quarter. The score remained the same until Jones darted into the end zone from three yards out with 4:48 left to play in the game. Jones also had the big play during the 80-yard drive, hauling in 34-yard reception to move the ball deep into Oxford territory. McLaughlin completed the two-yard conversion so the score was 38-28.
Oxford’s Green engineered a good fourth quarter drive, connecting with Mosley on a nine-yard play and finding Hubley for 25 more yards. But an Oxford fumble gave Avon Grove the ball back with 2:47 left to play.
Avon Grove continued turning in the big plays. McLaughlin found Moroz for 42 yards, moving the ball to the 25 of Oxford. But that was the last big play of the game as Oxford’s defense put pressure on McLaughlin on successive plays. A sack and three incompletions ended the drive, giving Oxford the ball back with 1:18 left to play. All Green had to do was take the snap and kneel down for three straight plays, securing the 38-28 win for the Hornets.
“I’m really excited for the kids, especially the seniors on the team,” said Nick Spano, Oxford’s assistant coach. “Avon Grove is a big rival for us. This is a good win.”
Spano talked about Green’s development during his first season as a starter.
“He’s gotten better every week as we’ve gone on,” the coach said.
Hubley’s remarkable contributions to the team as a wide receiver, a safety on defense, and as a punter on special teams continue to defy description.
“You really can’t say enough about Hubley,” Spano said. “He’s probably the best player Oxford has ever had.”
Spano said that he was very pleased with how the Hornets played as a team, especially since some key players are injured.
“We had some starters go down, but we had guys who stepped in,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of how we played tonight.”
The Hornets, now 2-6, will travel to face Sun Valley on Friday night.
Avon Grove, meanwhile, battled back from a 30-7 deficit and played some of the best football of the season during the second half comeback. Many of the team’s key contributors are underclassmen and will have the opportunity to develop together. McLaughlin completed 16 passes and tallied 377 yards. Jones caught six passes for 197 yards and added 54 more yards on the ground. Avon Grove will take on West Chester Henderson in an away game on Friday night.
To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email firstname.lastname@example.org.