Dragons roast Cats: Double ‘O’ trophy stays with LO

An Oxford ball carrier fights his way through LO's defense. Photo by Joe St. Henry
An Oxford ball carrier fights his way through LO’s defense. Photo by Joe St. Henry

By Chaz Millard

Football Correspondent

The rivalry game between Lake Orion and Oxford didn’t fail to live up to the hype in the end, although the men from Oxford fell short of what would have been a miraculous comeback, losing 52-35.

This year’s edition of this long-standing rivalry was also the second annual “Pinkout” game in support of A Mother’s Wish, which is an organization that supports women and families of women who have had breast cancer. The players wore custom jerseys that had the name of an individual who had overcome cancer, and, in some instances, someone who lost their fight with the horrendous disease.

In front of a full house clad in pink shirts, Lake Orion took control of the game early, capitalizing on an Oxford turnover deep in Wildcat territory and lead a defensive game 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Oxford would fight back in the second quarter with a pair of touchdowns from Senior Running Back Ethan Williams with his second tying the game at 14 with just over 4 minutes to play in the first half. This game had a similar feel to last week’s tilt with Clarkston where it was close for the first half but didn’t feel like Oxford was going to get over the hump and assume control.

Lake Orion would come down late in the half and cross the end zone to take a 21 -14 lead and not long after another Wildcat turnover set up the Dragons with a first and goal from the Oxford 8 yard line. The defense would hold Lake Orion to a field goal and the Dragons took a 24 – 14 lead into the halftime break. Just like a week ago, Oxford yielded points on consecutive drives right before the half to dig themselves into a hole.

That hole got deeper in the third quarter as the Wildcat offense continued their struggles. After recovering a fumble near midfield on the first possession of the second half the Wildcats would hand the ball right back to the Dragons failing to convert a fourth and two. The Dragons would strike quickly a few plays later and extended their lead to 31 – 14.

It seemed every time that the Wildcats would get anything going they would get in their own way and punt or turn it over. Lake Orion would capitalize on those blunders by the Wildcats and extend the lead to 38-14 with just over 3 minutes left in the third. Unlike last week Oxford would storm back into this game.

Over the next 10 minutes of game time Oxford would take complete control of the game. All of the frustration and mental errors were gone and the Wildcats played inspired, fast and physical. The defense stepped up their play and started forcing Lake Orion to punt the ball back early in the fourth and the fireworks began.

Behind their explosive ground attack Oxford scored quickly drawing to within 38 – 21. In a page from the Clarkston playbook coach Rowley called for the onside kick and the Wildcats recovered. It was the rushing game again that would answer and behind another rushing touchdown the Wildcats were officially back in the game trailing 38 – 28.

The defense would force another stop and again the Wildcats would strike on the ground and the Oxford faithful were cheering louder than they were at the start of the night as their team had fought back and trailed by only three, 38 – 35.

This night would not have the Cinderella comeback ending however. The errors that afflicted the Wildcats early, penalties and turnovers, came back around and Lake Orion was able to capitalize just as they had before and put the game out of reach closing out a valiant effort from the boys in blue and gold.

Everyone was a winner on this night though through the show of support for cancer awareness, the involvement of both the Oxford and Lake Orion communities. The culmination of the night was after the game concluded and the players on both sides presented their jerseys to the individuals or the families of the individuals that they represented. On the back of their jerseys was the name of a cancer survivor or victim. It was a touching moment and a somber moment of reflection on what is most important in life.

Cancer has touched us all in some way and we need to fight. The Wildcats demonstrated that attitude as the fought back in the game. Even though they came up short, everyone was a winner.

The Wildcats will take to the field again this Friday at Farmington at 7 p.m.


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