Oxford holds off Madison Central 25-23 to advance in 6A North football playoffs

OXFORD — Oxford won its 23rd consecutive game in dramatic fashion with a 25-23 win over Madison Central in the first round of the 6A state football playoffs Friday night.

The Chargers sealed the win by stopping the Jaguars on a two-point conversion with less than one-minute left on the clock. Madison Central quarterback Vic Sutton kept the ball on a quarterback sweep to his right, but met a host of Oxford defenders — including linebacker Tristan Shorter — who stopped him just short of the goal line.

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It was a fitting end to the game — according to Oxford head coach Chris Cutcliffe, his defense has improved every single week this season.

“We have a lot of guys playing for the first time this year,” Cutcliffe said. “They have improved a ton over the course of the season and our defensive coaching staff has done a great job with this group this year.”

Madison Central trailed 8-3 at halftime, but picked up steam in the second half to take a 17-15 lead into the fourth quarter thanks to two touchdown passes from Sutton to Blake Gunter. Sutton, just a sophomore, looked more than solid in defeat, especially considering what his role was headed into the season.

“This kid was the third string quarterback six weeks ago, and he has stepped up in such a big way,” Hart said. “He’s such a great player and he has a really great future at this school.”

Oxford quarterback Michael Harvey delivered the 65-yard touchdown to Jalen Webb that gave the Chargers an eight-point lead with less than four minutes remaining in the game. According to Harvey, he trusts his receivers to go make plays for him in big moments.

“We practice all of that kind of stuff,” Harvey said. “I have a lot of trust in him and he has a lot of trust in me. It was a huge play and he’s really proud of me and I’m really proud of him too.”

That wasn’t Webb’s only big play. Harvey repeatedly targeted him in big moments.

“Jalen is such a talented player,” Cutcliffe said. “We think we have some really talented receivers who we think can make some plays for us, and he stepped up in a big way tonight.”

With the win, Oxford advanced to the second round, where it will face Hernando for the chance to play for a north championship. After Friday, Cutcliffe said the expectations for his team have been raised again.

“This is a really confident bunch,” Cutcliffe said. “They just continue to play. One of the things we talk about it is putting on more steam as the game goes on, and they did that tonight. We played our best football at the end of the game.”

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