OXFORD – It wasn’t until getting hit in the mouth a couple of times by an upstart Unadilla Valley squad that Oxford picked itself up and hit back.
Using running back Paul Wonka like an irrepressible boulder rumbling down a steeply-pitched bank, Oxford closed the game with four unanswered touchdowns to defeat the Storm, 42-21 Friday night.
Wonka carried 30 times for 188 yards and three touchdowns, and wore down the UV defense behind a veteran offensive line. The Storm dressed less that 20 players at the start, and had at least three starters leave due to injury during the physical, hard-hitting contest.
“We just ran out of personnel,” said UV first-year coach Daryl Decker. “That, and fatigue set in on us. With a small team, that really hurts. We were putting some people in positions at the end of the game that they haven’t played, and we just had some mental breakdowns. It was your typical first-game jitters, but we’ll make adjustments and come out and play next week.”
Wonka had 65 yards rushing in the first half, and was slowed by a stomach bug that had him take frequent breaks on the sideline. He shook that bug off – or just ignored it – to key the second-half attack. “Paul is just a workhorse for us,” said Oxford coach Ray Dayton. “I think he got hold of some bad macaroni and cheese, and he was struggling a little bit with that. He came through for us in the second half.”
Unadilla Valley’s varied play calling in the first half, featuring primarily Kody Homann and quarterback Kurt Haycook, had the Storm in front as late as the 9:15 mark of the third quarter. On a fourth-and-long, Haycook scrambled left around the Oxford defense, and hooked up with Homann on a 40-yard TD toss to make it 21-14.