By Andrew Parent
Special to the Times
ASTON >> Ryan Hannum was just getting the feel of wearing football pads for the first time Friday night when he entered the confines of Dr. Wally Field.
Oxford’s newest member was the hero when he exited, kicking the 27-yard field goal with 16 seconds left to play that gave the Hornets a 23-21 win over Sun Valley in what was the Ches-Mont League opener for both teams.
When Hornets head coach Mike Means gave Hannum the call on third down with the ball sitting on Sun Valley’s 10-yard line, any chance for Oxford’s first win of the season rested on Hannum’s right leg.
He knew it, too.
“It was a relief, I’ll tell you that,” said Hannum, a soccer player by trade. “I stepped up, just looked at the uprights and didn’t focus on anything but the ball and kicked it through.
“I knew I’d be kicking extra points, but I didn’t think I’d be kicking the game-winning field goal.”
For Hannum’s opponents, the final result meant, well, something else.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Vanguards junior running back Jon Kester, who finished with 80 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. “All these guys come out, we all put in hard work and to lose a game like that, it just kills you inside.”
Sun Valley (0-4) entered its Homecoming game Friday coming off another bitter defeat, a 14-13 road loss last weekend to Upper Merion. With Homecoming festivities and a 14-0 lead after two quarters, the Vanguards’ first victory of the fall was well within reach.
Oxford (1-3) tied the game in the third quarter, though, thanks to a pair of goal-line quarterback sneaks from Dan Green. With less than seven minutes to play in the final period, Hornets running back Tim Davis broke a 50-yard touchdown run — and a series of tackles along the way — to give Oxford its first advantage.
Kester then punched in a 4-yard rushing score, which followed the 35-yard strike from quarterback Gabe Boccella to tight end James Gines that set it up.
Along with enjoying the lead for the majority of 48 minutes, Sun Valley racked up 296 yards of offense — 220 of them on the ground — and 20 first downs. Kester and Quentin West, who paced Sun Valley with 90 yards on 13 rushes, helped the Vanguards control and move the ball throughout.
In the end, though, Sun Valley failed to stop an Oxford passing game that rolled for much of the night, as Green notched 35 of his 217 passing yards on the game’s final drive to help set up Hannum’s last-minute heroics.
“That’s two weeks in a row,” Vanguards coach Ray Gionta said. “Last week we lost by a point, a heartbreaker, and this week we lost another heartbreaker. I’ve had better days. This was a tough loss.”
“We just kept saying that we had to stay in because the game’s not over. It’s not over until time runs out,” Kester said. “I’m real proud of everybody. The linemen kept blocking hard and everybody’s heads were still up, but they beat us. That’s all it came down to.”