By Brandon Speck
JACKSON – It took less than 5 minutes for Oxford’s perfect season to be erased and a state championship to be ripped from its grasp.
Picayune scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium to hand the Chargers their first loss of the season, 42-35, in the MHSAA Class 5A state championship game.
“It hurts to know that we came this far and just couldn’t finish it,” Oxford sophomore quarterback Jack Abraham said.
The dagger was a 75-yard run from Kardarius Cross with 2:08 remaining.
“I was quick enough to get around the edge,” Cross said of his game-winner. “We were just trying to move the ball down the field.”
Oxford (14-1) had gone ahead 35-21 on Kenzie Phillips’ 1-yard run late in the third quarter.
But run-heavy Picayune went to the air for the second time of the game and got a 47-yard TD pass from Boderick Scott to Daveon Green to cut the lead to seven.
“We knew they could run and we overloaded on the run and made some mistakes,” Oxford coach Johnny Hill said. “They got momentum going and we couldn’t stop it.”
The Maroon Tide (12-2) tied it on Preston Dedeaux’s 4-yard run, and after an Oxford three-and-out, Cross broke left for the game-winner. Dedeaux rushed for 192 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries.
Oxford’s Phillips fumbled the ball on Oxford’s possession and Chance Kellar recovered.
Picayune rushed for 374 yards on 64 plays, two long drives in the first quarter, allowing Oxford only one play.
“The first half, (Dedeaux) was running inside. We got that shut down, then they started going outside. They did a good job,” Hill said.
That one play in the first quarter was Abraham’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Joey Walden. Abraham threw for 265 yards, two touchdowns and a pick on 20-for-39 passing. Phillips rushed for 87 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries.
Oxford opened the second half with a bang, Phillips a 35-yard run and 1-yard touchdown for the Chargers’ first lead of the game, 28-21. Center Colton Skidmore left the game injured on the play and did not return.