WEST POINT – West Point head coach Chris Chambless preached all week to anyone who would listen. Then, here on Friday night, the Green Wave players and fans found out that Oxford had indeed brought a solid team to town.
West Point (6-1) stopped a potential tying two-point conversion with 1:31 left in the game to escape with a 22-20 Division 1-5A victory over the Chargers. The Green Wave improved to 3-0 in the region while Oxford dropped to 4-3 overall and 1-2 in the region.
“I told everyone that Oxford has a solid football team,” said Chambless. “They have good talent and they play hard and are well-coached. I am proud of our kids for holding on and making just enough plays. This was a good win over a very good football team.
“But we still have to learn to play for 48 minutes, all four quarters, especially against tough teams like Oxford. We haven’t done that yet this season.”
Oxford’s Guy Cameron Billups tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Stan Ivy at the 1:31 mark to cut the Green Wave lead to 22-20. But the Chargers fumbled the ball on the two-point conversion try and West Point held on for dear life.
On the night, Billups threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target was receiver Deshaun McNeal, who had six catches for 138 yards and also threw a touchdown pass to Billups.
“Very impressive,” said Chambless of Billups. “He got good protection and he has a good arm. He gave us trouble all night and he kept us back-pedaling for much of the night.”
Oxford coach Johnny Hill and his Chargers were quite daring in the opening quarter. Oxford opened the game with an onsides kick and later went for it on fourth down on the West Point 20-yard line.
Although those attempts failed, Oxford did connect on its third gamble of the first half. McNeal threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Billups to give Oxford an early 7-0 lead.
West Point’s Justin Cox quickly tied the game at 7-7 with a 92-yard run early in the second quarter. The teams then swapped scores later in the half but a failed extra point by the Green aided Oxford’s 14-13 lead at the break. Cox led West Point with 12 carries for 178 yards and also threw for 87 yards and another touchdown.
Earlier this year, the Green Wave dropped a close game to Starkville (21-20). But this time, it was West Point on the positive side of a close call.
“This gives us some good confidence,” said Cox, a Mississippi State commitment. “We just kept fighting and plugging away and got what we needed – a victory.”
Paul Jones/Special to the Journal