DERBY >> Oxford thought its punishing rushing attack could impose its will entering an NVL Copper Division clash with Valley rival Derby.
That script worked nearly to perfection Saturday.
The visiting Wolverines scored on their first three offensive possessions and added a special teams touchdown in between en route to a 43-6 victory over the Red Raiders.
Senior running back Joe Romagna carried the ball just five time for 20 yards, but he scored three first-quarter touchdowns in the win. After a long return on the opening kickoff, it took the Wolverines (5-1) just four plays to find the end zone. Senior Dan Herold scampered 37 yards on the game’s first play from scrimmage and then Romagna scored on a 2-yard run three plays later to give Oxford the lead for good.
“Our goal was to come out first series and kind of pound it,” Romagna said. “I think we did that, and we kind of set the tempo for the rest of the game. The line was blocking great.”
Romagna added touchdown runs of 6 and 4 yards in the first quarter.
“We have some great running backs in our program,” Oxford coach Joe Stochmal said. “We think we are pretty physical up front. So, we try to set the tone by putting the ball on the ground and gaining some yards that way. Romagna’s a tough runner. When you give him the ball, he’s going to get three or four yards on his own and, with the help of the offensive line, maybe we could pop one. That’s what we wanted to try to do.”
Sophomore Chase Alcorace fell on a blocked punt in the end zone for an Oxford touchdown. The Wolverines led 29-0 after one quarter.
“I think he (the Derby punter) kicked it into his own player, into his upback,” Stochmal said. “And then Chase Alcorace was the kid who recovered it.”
Derby (1-4) had trouble containing the Oxford run game throughout the first half. The Raiders have now lost three in a row.
“This year, we haven’t been able to do anything right so far,” Derby coach George French said. “They opened up (offensively) exactly what we thought they would be in. They hit that trap play right off the bat and, soon enough, touchdown. They did exactly what we thought they would do, we just didn’t execute. We did not execute at all today.”
Senior Griffin Downs scored on a 13-yard run to give Oxford a 36-0 lead at halftime. Junior Kyle Fedak scored on a 33-yard run in the fourth quarter for the Wolverines. Derby’s only score came in the third quarter when Chris Oliwa connected with Tom Abel on a 59-yard touchdown pass.
Oxford has won three in a row since losing to still unbeaten Ansonia on Sept. 23.
“Each time we win, we realize we are getting better as a unit,” Romagna said. “Defensively, we let up six points. If we keep letting up only six points a game, we’re going to do well.”
Stochmal was satisfied with how his team performed against a Valley rival.
“Those are parts of our goals every year: to compete and win against Valley teams,” Stochmal said. “This is a goal our kids wanted to set at the beginning of the year, every year. Every time you come and play a Valley team, you’re in for a dogfight. Even though Derby’s down a little bit this year, that’s a tough football team. They play as hard as they can.”
Oxford 43, Derby 6
Oxford 29 7 0 7 — 43
Derby 0 0 6 0 — 6
O—Joe Romagna 2 run (Angelo Martino kick)
O—Joe Romagna 6 run (Dan Herold run)
O—Chase Alcorace 1 blocked punt ret
O—Joe Romagna 4 run (Martino kick)
O—Griffin Downs 13 run (Martino kick)
D—Tom Abel 59 pass from Chris Oliwa (pass failed)
O—Kyle Fedak 13 run (Sam Martino kick)
Team records: Derby 1-4; Oxford 5-1