All season long, Oxford has found itself in the right place at the right time when opposing offenses fumbled or threw astray. The first four games, all losses, Oxford forced 11 opponent turnovers, or nearly three game. Yet, the pay-off for that opportunism was minimal to none. Oxford was averaging less than 10 points a game, a clear indication it was not converting turnovers into points. That discouraging statistic made a 180-degree turn against visiting Harpursville. The Hornets’ “pistol offense” was far from sharp, and with a stagnant running game, Harpursville went to the airways. All told, the Blackhawks intercepted five passes and created six total turnovers. The result was a 37-point outing to nearly double its four-game point total. “We were finally able to finish drives, and we finished a game strong,” said Oxford second-year coach Mike Chrystie. Finish strong indeed. The Blackhawks scored 19 points in the final quarter to turn an 18-6 lead into a rout. Defensive back Alex Marin’s 37-yard interception return for a touchdown put a stamp on the impressive win. Next on the ticket is a road date at Walton, the defending Class D state champion that has shown no inkling of a drop-off. In five wins, the Warriors have outscored opponents 194-15 including a 66-7 thrashing of Sidney last week. Chrystie, speaking to The Evening Sun last Saturday, was not quite ready to move on from his team’s first win. “We’re going to enjoy this one,” Chrystie said.
Forks’ defense never rests
Chenango Forks was in midseason form last Friday against Norwich, and its offensive performance was vintage Blue Devils. Fifty-five rushing plays, 198 yards, no passing attempts. Leading by three touchdowns in the third quarter, head coach Dave Hogan kept his play-calling close to the vest, and let his defense close out the win. After Norwich scored to close the gap to 21-6, the Blue Devils turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions within its own territory. A sack by Shane Baron of Norwich quarterback Timmy Clark cut down the first Tornado drive attempt. On the second drive, Clark was sacked on first down, Tyler Slater was tackled for a two-yard loss by the Devils’ Jordan Barnett. Paddy Law zipped up the middle of the Forks defense for 10 yards, but a Clark scramble on fourth-and-three came up a yard short. Norwich had one other significant offensive penetration following the Blue Devils’ first punt of the game. A 42-yard hookup from Clark to David Carson moved Norwich significantly forward, and a late hit on Clark’s pass attempt launched the Tornado all the way to the 17. Two plays later — Slater reached the five-yard line, but was stood up and stripped of the ball. Tim Zdimal recovered ending the Tornado’s last scoring threat. “We have an unbelievable amount of respect for the Norwich football program,” Hogan said. “We certainly played well, and once we got the lead, we were more conservative with our play calling. Those two fumbles, we cannot have that.” Norwich coach John Pluta echoed Hogan. “That was the best we’ve seen them play. Their defense has played well all year, but on offense, their line was moving us off the ball.” As for the rest of the regular season, Norwich will play three consecutive road dates, two of which are must-wins to gain a playoff spot. “We have to get over this disappointment. Our kids are no different today than they were last week,” Pluta said. “We’re still a good football team. We have great kids with great character. We just didn’t play well.”