E.A. Sports Today

A deal is a deal

Oxford’s defense shut outs Pell City, then gets to shave coach’s head

Kelvin Adams (20) and the Oxford defense do all they can to keep Pell City out of the end zone. In the cover photo, coach Ryan Herring had a lot more hair during the game than after the Jackets' shutout. (Photos by Greg McWilliams)

Kelvin Adams (20) and the Oxford defense do all they can to keep Pell City out of the end zone. In the cover photo, coach Ryan Herring had a lot more hair during the game than after the Jackets’ shutout. (Photos by Greg McWilliams)

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — When it comes to rivalry games, one needs say no more than Oxford and Pell City. They have been getting after it for nearly 50 years and no game is more important.

The last two years the winner of this game advanced into the playoffs and the loser went home.

A playoff spot was on the line for Oxford Friday night and the Yellow Jackets responded with the combination of a suffocating defense and a punishing ground game to pound out a 24-0 victory over the Panthers at Lamar Field.

The win – Oxford’s 16 in the last 20 games of the series — left the Jackets (4-4) in fourth place in the Class 6A Region 4 race with a 2-3 mark. A win in two weeks at Chelsea could enable them to finish as high as third. Even with a loss they could still make the playoffs with a fourth-place finish.

Oxford coach Ryan Herring was inspired by the performance of his team and he responded as the team shaved his head after the game in a fired up joyous locker room.

“I was so proud of these kids on defense and the way they played tonight,” Herring said. “We have an agreement that if we pitch a shutout on defense then the kids can pick a coach and shave their head. Tonight, we pitched a shutout and they picked me.”

They had two shutouts last season.

The Jackets held Pell City to only 97 yards of total offense, 73 of which came on four plays. The Panthers had only 51 yards in the first half, 26 on a pass play in the closing seconds.

Oxford’s offense, meanwhile, rolled up 305 yards, 249 on the ground on a wet, slippery field. Tre Gamble had 135 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns, running his season total to 16. Quarterback Ty Webber had his best rushing game of the year — 67 yards on 12 carries. Dylan Sipplin added 51 yards on five carries.

“We wanted to make sure we protected the football and when we got the lead we just did not want to put the ball on the ground and give up turnovers,” Herring said. “I love these kind of games. Anytime the offense can control the ball like we did tonight, it is going to help the defense.”

The Jackets had two long drives in the first half to go up 14-0. Gamble’s 55-yard run to the 1 set up his first touchdown. His second, a 6-yard run, capped a 9-play, 54-yard drive with 2:44 left in the second quarter.

Pell City flirted with a touchdown early in the third quarter but Jacob Sears recovered a fumble at the 16 to stop the Panther drive. Oxford then put together a 55-yard drive with Gamble collecting his third touchdown on a 4-yard plunge.

Sipplin had a big fourth quarter running the ball for the Jackets. His 26-yard run was the big play that set up Keaton Borrelli’s 36-yard field goal that closed the scoring with 7:19 to play.

Oxford's Tre Gamble (21) goes airborne to score one of his three touchdowns Friday night against Pell City.

Oxford’s Tre Gamble (21) goes airborne to score one of his three touchdowns Friday night against Pell City.



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