PLYMOUTH — A nagging ankle injury put Dylan Oxsen on the turf writhing in pain more than once, but it never fully knocked him out of the game. Not when it was Thanksgiving in September.
The Plymouth South running back vowed he would not sit on the sideline while his No. 15 Panthers (3-0) were trying to survive against crosstown rival Plymouth North (2-2).
True to his word, Oxsen stayed on the field until he had to be helped off by teammates with 53 seconds left, but he already had done his damage. The senior ran for 150 yards, 116 in the second half, to help lift Plymouth South past the Eagles, 21-14, at Mario J. Romano Field.
“This is the big game,” Oxsen said. “Everyone’s saying, ‘Oh, you play North twice.’ Yeah, we do, but once Thanksgiving comes around, the playoffs have already started. This is the game for the playoffs, so I couldn’t sit on the sideline and risk losing while I knew I was sitting there not helping.”
Oxsen’s 58-yard touchdown in the third quarter proved to be the winning points as the Panthers withstood a furious comeback by the Eagles in the final seven minutes of the game.
“I think the more times we can put it in No. 5’s hands, the better off we’ll be,” said Plymouth South coach Scott Fry.
Oxsen made his presence known on defense as well, returning an interception 88 yards for South’s second touchdown of the day.
Leading 21-7, the Panthers began a fourth-quarter drive that lasted only two plays because a blitzing Jake Zaniboni interrupted a toss to Oxsen, causing a fumble that linebacker Trevor Devlin recovered at South’s 24-yard line.
Quarterback Cullin Cosgrove then threw a perfect pass to tight end Jesse Jason at the 1-yard line before going out of bounds. Christian Carr, who finished with 128 yards on 22 carries, ran it in from there to make it a one-possession game with 6:14 remaining.
The Eagles came out on fire again on defense, and Pat Danner’s sack on third and 24 forced the Panthers to punt.
Taking over at South’s 30-yard line with 4:13 to play, Carr rushed four times for 27 yards. It was at the 3-yard line that North’s fire went out and the Panther defense saved the game. On a fourth and 4 at the 5, Cosgrove’s play-action rollout was stuffed.
The Eagles got the ball one more time with 56 seconds left and 42 yards to go, but four straight incompletions sealed the game.