Clarkston rolls past Oxford in OAA Red action
Oxford – In the midst of an 18-game win streak, Clarkston’s D.J. Zezula feels the Wolves have not fired on all cylinders just yet.
That’s a scary thought.
The top-ranked Wolves took advantage of a couple of Oxford turnovers and rolled to a convincing 42-14 victory over Oxford in a match-up of the top two teams in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division and both state-ranked.
"Last year we lost that first game, then we kept getting better and better and we peaked at the right time and won the state championship," said Zezula, a three-year starter at quarterback. "We are playing some good football, but we haven’t played our best yet."
That could be bad news for the rest of the Wolves’ schedule. Clarkston is now in the driver’s seat for its third straight Red Division title.
Clarkston (5-0, 4-0) amassed 392 yards of total offense and scored on six drives, while holding Oxford (4-1, 3-1) to one scoring drive in each half and 369 yards of offense.
"To put up 42 points on a well-coached team, that’s impressive," said Clarkston coach Kurt Richardson. "We were missing a couple of starters."
Oxford, making its first appearance in the Red after joining the OAA (White Division) in 2010, has posted winning seasons in 33 of the past 34. The Wildcats could not find an answer to Clarkston’s well-oiled machine on both sides of scrimmage.
The Wolves, who picked off two first-half passes, benefitted from Cole Chewins’ 41-yard interception return to the Oxford 9-yard line. Three plays later Zezula threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Shane Holler for a 21-7 lead with 22.5 seconds left in the first half.
Holler played just his second game of the season and finished with seven receptions for 67 yards and three touchdowns.
"I tell you what, our receivers have been impressive all season long and having Shane in there gives us five (quality) receivers," noted Richardson. "We were good last season, but we are even (deeper) with receivers this year.
"And Chewins’ play was a big turning point for us," continued Richardson. "That gave us the (21-7) lead at the half."
Oxford just missed a touchdown the previous play, as Glacier Wallington overthrew Dallas Pruitt by less than a foot. The 6-foot-8 Chewins’ clutch interception helped Clarkston pull away.
"That was the whole game," said Oxford coach Bud Rowley. "(Chewins) turned the whole thing around. When he made the play with 40 seconds to go, he changed the whole thing. That was a great play by the kid."
Clarkston defeated Oxford, 30-27, in last year’s Division 1 pre-district, the first step in the Wolves’ run to their first state title. The Wildcats defeated Clarkston, 45-28, in an OAA crossover in 2011.
Clarkston lost in the D-1 regional finals two years ago to Rockford, then dropped its season-opener to Rochester Adams last August. The Wolves have not lost since that contest.
Zezula, a third-year starter, orchestrated six touchdown drives, and helped give Clarkston a 7-0 lead, leading a nine-play, 66-yard drive which ended with a 19-yard TD run by junior Nolan Eriksen (11 carries, 98 yards).
Zezula finished the game completing 10-of-16 passes for 174 yards and four touchdowns.
Wallington, a fourth-year starter, handed off to John Patrick for a 1-yard plunge with 9:48 left in the second frame to knot the score at 7-7.
Clarkston went ahead for good when Centrus Williams punched through the wall on a 16-yard scamper, ending an eight-play, 64-yard scoring drive.
Zezula hooked up with Holler for a 21-yard TD pass with 10:09 left in the third to give Clarkston a 28-7 lead.
Holler hauled in another 5-yard strike from Zezula with 2:24 left in the third for a 35-7 lead, while the Wolves’ final scoring drive was capped by Jacob Fisher’s 75-yard catch and run for pay dirt with 9:59 to play, kicking off the running clock.
Oxford’s other touchdown came on Anson Rowley’s 5-yard run.
Scott Stubenrauch finished with 25 carries for 116 yards, while Wallington was 8-for-15 passing for 204 yards for Oxford. Adam Schlicht had five catches for 85 yards.