South Western holds off New Oxford's late comeback attempt in 'gut-check' 14-7 win

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
  • South Western earned a 14-7 football victory at New Oxford on Friday night.
  • Both teams had entered the contest with 2-0 records.
  • South Western head coach Tony Shermeyer called it a "gut-check" win for his team.
New Oxford's Derek Noel, right, tries to take down South Western's Owen Reed during football action at New Oxford High School in Oxford Township, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. South Western would win the game 14-7. Dawn J. Sagert photo

South Western didn't come close to the impressive offensive numbers it put up in its first two contests.

The Mustangs also turned the ball over twice and had to wait until the final seconds to clinch the victory.

Still, Tony Shermeyer called it his team's best game of the season.

The Mustangs' head coach was impressed by the poise his team showed on the road against a New Oxford defense that had not allowed a point coming into the game.

South Western walked into the locker room at halftime with a two-touchdown lead, but with 1:32 left in the fourth quarter the Colonials started to charge down the field. New Oxford entered the red zone down one touchdown, but the Mustangs' defense stepped up and held on to secure the 14-7 victory.

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"It's just a gut-check win," Shermeyer said. "The other two games, once we got rolling we were able to move the ball well. These guys coming in, like I said they have a really good defense... Our guys did a great job, they didn't get down on themselves, they kept going, and you know what, we got some good senior leadership, we got a lot of seniors on this team, and I think that showed through tonight."

South Western (3-0) built up its lead behind two short touchdown runs by senior Ty Cromer in the first half. Cromer's first score came with 4:32 left in the second quarter, but the second certainly changed the course of the game.

The Mustangs recovered a fumble one play after Cromer's first touchdown, but the Colonials' defense forced a quick punt. A few plays later, however, New Oxford quarterback Jett Moore threw an interception that set up South Western with a chance to score.

Cromer crashed into the end zone with 11.2 seconds left before the half, allowing South Western to seemingly take control of the game.

New Oxford coach Jason Warner, however, was impressed with the way his Colonials came out of the locker room and responded to a tough first half.

"The way our defense was playing, we had every expectation of getting back into the game," Warner said. "We expected stops in the second half. I can't say enough about how our kids responded and played in the second half. I'm very pleased."

New Oxford's Jett Moore scores a touchdown during football action against South Western at New Oxford High School in Oxford Township, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. South Western would win the game 14-7. Dawn J. Sagert photo

New Oxford opened the second half by forcing South Western into a field-goal attempt that failed. After turning the ball over on downs, the Colonials got an interception from Connor Herring that set up a touchdown run by Moore.

The Mustangs answered with a long drive, but penalties forced them to punt the ball back. One minute later, Moore and the Colonials tried to go 93 yards in 92 seconds to tie the game, but couldn't get it done.

South Western's Shilo Bivins looks to pass the ball during football action at New Oxford High School in Oxford Township, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. South Western would win the game 14-7. Dawn J. Sagert photo

South Western quarterback Shilo Bivins was 15 for 23 passing for 152 yards with two interceptions after he looked dominant running the Mustangs' new spread offense in the first two games, when the Mustangs piled up a combined 77 points.

Despite the limited offensive output, Shermeyer was proud of the victory, which puts the Mustangs over their win total from the entire 2020 season in just three games.

South Western head coach Tony Shermeyer.

"These kids are great. They just buy in," Shermeyer said. "I got a coaching staff (that) are 100% bought into these kids. The parents and the whole community is great and the kids work hard. The kids want to do well. They want to win. They love the system that we're running offensively."

Although his team lost the game, Warner was happy with the effort the squad showed to fight back against a bigger program that entered with an elite offense. Headed into York-Adams Division II play, the Colonials' coach is confident his crew can compete for a chance to repeat as champions.

New Oxford head coach Jason Warner.

"We like where we're at right now," Warner said. "Obviously losing always stinks, but we turn our attention to the league and everything. We do our pyramid of success to measure our season and the successes and so forth. It's not always just about going to districts and that kind of stuff, so everything on that pyramid still available to us right now."

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Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.