Oxford — Cole Chewins made the play of the game Friday night on the blue turf, batting Glacier Wallington's pass in the air, then intercepting it late in the first half to help defending state champion Clarkston to an impressive 42-14 win over Oxford before an estimated crowd of 6,000.
Chewins, a 6-foot-7, 240-pound senior who will play next season at Miami (Ohio), made the play during the final minute of the second quarter with No. 1 Clarkston holding a 14-7 lead.
On the previous play, Wallington's pass from midfield went off the fingertips of a receiver's hands in the end zone which could have pulled Oxford even.
Chewins returned the interception to the Oxford 9, setting up D.J. Zezula's 8-yard touchdown pass to Shane Holler to open up a 21-7 cushion with 22 seconds left.
"I just played the play right and got lucky," Chewins said after Clarkston improved to 5-0, 4-0 in the OAA Red. "I put my hands up, was able to bat it, got the interception and took it downfield, so it just worked out in my favor. Obviously it was a big thing for us because we were able to get more points on the board before halftime."
Zezula was good under pressure. He completed a third down pass to Joe Popp during the first series, leading to Nolan Eriksen's 20-yard run to cap an 84-yard drive for a 7-0 lead.
Zezula then found Holler for a 13-yard gain on third-and-long during the second drive, leading to a 16-yard touchdown run by Centrus Williams for a 14-7 lead midway through the second quarter. His 8-yard touchdown toss to Holler was also on a third-down play.
"The first couple of series in any game are always huge, sets the tone, and when we're facing a third down that's really when you have to dig down deep as an offense and pull out a first down, and that's what we did and that's awesome," said Zezula who completed 10 of 15 passes for 175 yards and four touchdown passes, three going to Holler (6 receptions, 68 yards) and the final one to Jacob Fisher, a 75-yard play early in the fourth for a 42-7 lead.
"It was a flashback to youth football," said Zezula of Chewins' play. "He did that same thing to the same quarterback in youth football, so it was a huge turning point for us. They were starting to put together a drive and Cole made that play, then we got the ball inside the 10 and scored."
"He turned the whole thing around," said Oxford coach Bud Rowley of Chewins. "When he made that play with 40 seconds to go, he changed the whole thing. That was the game right there and it was a great play by the kid, too."
Wallington completed eight of 14 passes for 100 yards to lead Oxford (4-1, 3-1 OAA Red), but had two second-quarter interceptions, including one by Austin Egler at Clarkston's 18 after being pressured by linebacker Carter Linton.
Egler returned the interception near midfield. Then on first down, Zezula threw a perfect pass which eluded the receiver in the end zone.
Clarkston dominated with its ground game in the second half, scoring on its first two drives to open a 35-7 cushion.
First, Zezula ran for 27 yards, followed by a 17-yard run by Williams, leading up to Zezula's second touchdown pass to Holler, this time on a 21-yard pass.
Then, after Clarkston held Oxford on a fourth-and-9 from the Clarkston 41, Eriksen broke loose for runs of 14, 14 and 18 yards, followed by Zezula's 22-yard run to set up his 5-yard touchdown toss to Holler.
Clarkston had 230 yards rushing (28 attempts) with Eriksen leading the way (106 yards on 11 carries).
Oxford tailback Scott Stubenrauch rushed for 118 yards on 25 carries, but was forced to leave early in the fourth after being hit hard by Linton, stopped short on a fourth-and-1.