Oxford’s stirring comeback falls short

OXFORD – The record will show that Oxford fell one point short in its 2014 season finale. That the Blackhawks were able to battle back seemed unlikely early in the second half, and that they were in position to win in the final seconds was almost impossible to believe.

Deposit-Hancock denied an Oxford two-point conversion attempt with 4.5 seconds left in regulation hanging on for a 40-39 victory.

The Eagles, 40-6 losers to Tioga last week in the first round of the Class D playoffs, had the game clinched in the final minute, but an ill-advised play call gave Oxford one last chance.

Oxford burned all of its timeouts as Deposit-Hancock converted back-to-back first downs in the last three minutes. Just 30 seconds remained on the clock with Deposit-Hancock leading, 34-33. At this point, most teams take a couple of knees, and call it a night.

Instead, the Eagles ran a naked bootleg with quarterback Ronnie Ballard taking the ball around the right side. The play certainly fooled Oxford’s defense, and Ballard was able to break one tackle near the goal line on a 16-yard score. A missed two-point run kept the game within seven points.

Bryan Simpson returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield, and 14 seconds remained on the clock. Oxford was whistled for a false-start penalty on first down moving it back to its 45. Everyone knew what was coming next, and yet, Deposit-Hancock was unable to stop it.

Oxford junior quarterback Angelo Gonzalez launched a Hail Mary pass down the right sideline to Nick Neer, who pulled the ball in for a 55-yard touchdown. Instead of going for one point and the tie, Oxford attempted a run for the victory, but was stopped less than a yard from the goal line.

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