Harpursville 24, Oxford 21
HARPURSVILLE – Harpursville/Afton walked a tightrope in the second half, and made it to the other side.
The Hornets stopped two Oxford drives inside the 20, including a goal-line stand, and intercepted two passes in the fourth quarter in a 24-21 victory Saturday.
The win kept Harpursville-Afton’s Class D playoff hopes alive, although a determination of its playoff fate was not known at press time.
Devon Dean, who ran for one score and threw for another, intercepted Oxford quarterback Angelo Gonzalez with 5:40 remaining in the game, and again with 1:09 left in the fourth to effectively end the game.
“I think that our team is young, but it is learning to play as a team,” said Oxford coach Jeff Newton. “We’re still making some mental mistakes, and those are costing us.”
Harpursville/Afton scored with relative ease on its first two possessions. Dean scrambled to the right for 70-yard score, then Dean hit a wide-open Caleb Stulir on a 47-yard TD connection to make it 16-7 after one stanza.
From there, the Hornets were kept off the board until early in the fourth when Dillon Lindsay scored the go-ahead touchdown with 10:10 left on a six-yard run.
Down 24-19, Oxford went to work on its next possession buoyed by Nick Neer’s 27-yard kickoff return to the 45. A terrific over –the-shoulder 34-yard pass reception by Neer from Gonzalez moved Oxford significantly closer to the go-ahead score. A pair of first-down runs by Bryan Simpson and two solid runs by Garett Sylstra took Oxford to the H/A three with three plays to score a touchdown.
Simpson was stopped at the one on second down, a pass attempt was knocked down in the endzone, and Simpson was thwarted for no gain on fourth down.
“It really came down to that goal-line stand,” Newton said. “We had our chances from the one-yard line, and we couldn’t punch it in.”
Although the Blackhawks were riddled with mistakes (three turnovers, 14 penalties), it put itself in position to win the game after falling behind by nine points.
Simpson’s six-yard TD run on the opening drive of the game was countered by a pair of Hornets quick-strikes.
Oxford drove 80 yards for its second score cutting the margin to 16-13. The big play in that scoring drive wa s a 58-yard Gonzalez to Kevin Davis pass completion. Simpson’s 11-yard TD run came with 3:05 left before halftime.
Oxford drove to the Harpursville/Afton 16 on its first possession of the third only to fumble the ball away. The defense quickly held, and Oxford capitalized on that possession. Neer beat double coverage hauling in a 42-yard TD pass from Gonzalez.
Gonzalez finished the game with 237 yards passing on 10 of 23 attempts.
The Hornets’ dormant offense came to life early in the fourth, and aside from a safety after its big goal line stand, made all of the big defensive plays in the fourth.
“I’m disappointed that we lost the game, but I was happy that we gave a full effort the entire game,” Newton said. “The team is starting to understand what it takes to win games. We just came up short.”