By Patrick Carson
OXFORD HILLS — The matchup between the Oxford Hills Vikings and Chevrus Staggs would be a classic battle that, in the end, would be decided on the final play of the game in a 13-7 Viking win.
As the last seconds clicked off the clock and Chevrus prepared to put up a game tying score, senior linebacker Jordan Silver would make this “Senior Night” game a special memory for the Vikings, as on the final play of the game, he would out-leap, out–fight and somehow come down with an interception to secure the victory for the Vikings.
“It was an unbelievable play for our defense, team and season,” Oxford Hills Viking coach Mark Soehren said. “Our defense came up big when we needed it most. It was a great victory and a special night for our seniors.”
Playing without senior running back Dawson Stevens, a trio of juniors including Parker LaFrance, Cam Slicer and Colton Carson stepped up for the Vikings on offense. With the opportunity to host a home playoff game, Oxford Hills was determined to persevere in spite of a recent slew of injuries and coming off games against the top two teams in Class A South.
LaFrance, who normally starts at linebacker saw double duty as the starting running back and on numerous occasions, made positive running plays between the tackles, allowing the Vikings to control the ball and the clock.
Slicer and Carson would connect on both Viking scores. The first came with just 56 seconds left in the first-half .
On third down, the Staggs defense put heavy pressure on the Vikings with a pass rush up the middle. Carson would escape the pressure, roll left, and hit Slicer in stride, who had gotten behind defenders on a vertical route and bring in a 59-yard touchdown catch.
The score would tie the game 7-7 at the half and allow the Vikings to go into the third quarter with momentum and confidence. “It boosted our whole team’s confidence tremendously,” Carson said. “Cam ran a perfect route and his catch allowed us to have positive energy going into the half. It helps because you carry that energy into the next half.”
The Staggs got the ball to start the third quarter, but the momentum the Vikings built from the late first-half touchdown transferred over to the defensive side. The Vikings got stingy against the run and pass and forced four consecutive three-and-out possessions to start the second half. This Vikings limited Cheverus to just 15 rushing yards in the second half.
Oxford Hills turned to read-option spread offense in the second half and the return of senior center Jarred Taylor showed immediate results, with large running lanes open between the tackles. Carson would run the ball 14 times for 100 yards in the second half.
The running game opened up options for Oxford Hills and in the fourth quarter Carson hit Slicer, who battled two defenders and came down with the touchdown in the back end of the end-zone for a 22-yard score.
With just four minutes on the clock, the Vikings defense would again hold and force a punt. The Vikings had an opportunity to run the clock out, but a bad snap on a fourth-down allowed the Cheverus defense to stop the Vikings short of the first-down marker.
With 1:35 left in the game, Staggs quarterback Perrin Conant put his team on his back and indicative of a senior leader, connected on six straight passes to push Cheverus within five yards of a game tying/winning score.
A touchdown looked in reach as the final pass of the game left Conant’s hand, but Silver would dash any hopes of a last second victory by out-battling the Cheverus tight end and coming down in the end zone with the game saving interception.
The win secured a variety of positive playoff scenarios for the Vikings. In addition to finishing 3rd in Class A North, Oxford Hills will now host a Portland Bulldog team on Friday, October 27th at 7:00pm at the Gouin and head into the playoffs knowing they can beat anybody.