By JAMES BOYLE
Journal Register News Service
ASTON – Sun Valley delivered Oxford its first loss of the season by a score of 21-14, and extended its own record to 3-1 on the young season.
After a tough 32-0 loss at the hands of Academy Park last week, the Vanguards showed up on both sides of the ball in front of an energized home crowd on Friday night.
“We always want to go 1-0,” said quarterback T.J. Mancini, who threw for 123 yards and two touchdowns on the day. “We work hard and we always expect to win. We can beat anyone on our schedule.”
Following a turnover on downs during Oxford’s first drive of the game, the Vanguards took over on their own 46-yard line and promptly scored on the opening play of their series. Sophomore halfback Juwan Chandler took the ball 54 yards to help provide an early lead for his team.
Chandler ran for 113 yards on 12 carries in Friday’s game.
The Hornets scored a touchdown with 30 seconds remaining in the first half on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Ethan Herb to Collin Dawkins, but they couldn’t hold on to the momentum.
In a last-ditch effort, Mancini threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Leon Hunter, who fell into the endzone as time ran out in the half, putting them up 21-7.
“I just put it up there for him,” said Mancini. “And he came down with it.”
Hunter had three catches for 101 yards.
The Vanguards’ three first-half touchdowns were all they needed to seal a victory over the team that defeated them a season earlier.
Friday’s win was retribution for Sun Valley, according to left back Blake Bertrand, who helped force a late fumble that ensured his team’s win.
“We expected to win,” he added.
On a key third-and-goal play early in the second half, Oxford quarterback Ethan Herb was brought down by defensive lineman Mike Bruton for a loss of 9 yards. On the following play, Oxford failed to score, turning the ball over on downs.