E.A. Sports Today

Oxford kicked on brutal night

Friday roundup: Includes Oxford, Anniston, JCA, Central-Clay, Ranburne; playoff pairings

Oxford's Tre Gamble runs away from Decatur's Eddie Martinez in the second half Friday. On the front, Oxford coach Ryan Herring bundles up against the elements. (Photos by Greg McWilliams)

Oxford’s Tre Gamble runs away from Decatur’s Eddie Martinez in the second half Friday. On the front, Oxford coach Ryan Herring bundles up against the elements. (Photos by Greg McWilliams)

Friday’s County Games

Fort Payne 14, Anniston 0
Verbena 70, JCA 8
Decatur 17, Oxford 14
Oneonta 26, Piedmont 15
Saks 63, LaFayette 6
Weaver 28, White Plains 0

By Brant Locklier
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — There was Earth, Wind and Fire at Lamar Field Friday night and it was not the musical group from the seventies.

First, there was an incredible sequence of weather events that roared through in 90 minutes of time that seemed very fitting for a Halloween night. The game ended with a cruel trick on the home-standing Oxford Yellow Jackets as Decatur kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired to escape with a 17-14 win.

Francisco Tirado lined up for the game-winning 27-yarder with two seconds left and nailed it as time expired. He missed a 43-yard attempt earlier in the fourth quarter.

The weather played a part in the Red Raiders’ game-winning drive. With 3:45 left Ty Webber tried a pass that was impacted by the wind and intercepted and returned to the Oxford 25.

Decatur (7-3) looked as if it might win the game with a late touchdown, setting up on first-and-goal from the 1 with 95 seconds left, but three times the Yellow Jackets defense held its ground and knocked the Red Raiders back to the 6.

That’s when Tirado came on to kick the game-winner.

“Our kids fought their hearts out tonight and I was proud of their effort,” Oxford coach Ryan Herring said. “The weather made a big difference in that it helped the interception there at the end. We were having a hard time running the ball and had to make some adjustments as (the Red Raiders) had a great defense and we started having some success.”

The Yellow Jackets (5-5) finished with 181 total yards, 140 of which came on the ground. Tre Gamble had 71 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries, while Webber had 69 yards on 12 rushes.

“The field has some winter rye and the rain made it so slippery, it was so tough trying to cut and run the football in those wet conditions,” Herring said. “It was really coming down out there. It felt like we were in England or somewhere.”

The heavens opened 15 minutes before the game with tropical storm-type rain that thoroughly soaked the field and it returned with six minutes to go in the first half. It was raining in sheets with a 30-40-mph bitter wind.

Then, a lightning bolt knocked out the power on the home side of the field. The north wind was so strong it was making it incredibly hard for members of the Oxford Band to hold their position for the halftime Senior Night presentations after they got the lights back on. The temperature dropped some 25 degrees before the half ended.

The weather conditions made passing almost impossible and forced a battle between two run-oriented offenses.

A couple of sacks by Jacob Shake gave the Jackets good field position and they drove 45 yards in eight plays to draw first blood on a 1-yard touchdown by Gamble. Keaton Borelli added the extra point for the Jackets and they led 7-0 with nine minutes left in the half.

Decatur regained the momentum after the power outage and took advantage of the wind at their back, scoring on a 23-yard pass from Devin Sanders to Ty Purvis to tie the game.

Oxford had the wind in the third quarter and Gamble put the Jackets back on top with a 4-yard touchdown run. Webber had a 32-yard burst to key the drive.

Decatur came back and, aided by two huge Yellow Jacket penalties, moved it 60 yards and retied the game on a 9-yard run by Jauan Lang.

Both teams missed potential go-ahead field goals. The Jackets had theirs blocked near the end of the third quarter and Decatur missed from 43 yards with nine minutes left.

The Yellow Jackets now turn their attention to the playoffs. They travel to Dothan for the opening round.

“Every Friday night now is win or you’re out,” Herring said. “We have had a schedule that has prepared us for the playoffs, no doubt about that. We hope we are ready for Dothan.”

The Jackets have played nine teams that have been ranked at some point this season, three region champions, the second-ranked defensive team in Class 7A and are 3-2 on the road.

Verbena 70, JCA 8

JACKSONVILLE – This certainly wasn’t the way Jacksonville Christian wanted to go into the week of its second ever playoff game.

Verbena held the Thunder to 49 yards in the first half while opening a 48-0 lead en route to setting a school record for points. The 70 points were one shy of JCA’s school-record for points allowed, set in a 71-20 loss to Wadley in 2005.

The Red Devils (4-6) had all kinds of answers for JCA quarterback Daylon Brackett. The senior scored the Thunder’s only touchdown — the 50th rushing touchdown of his career — but was held to 96 yards rushing on 28 carries and 5-of-18 passing for 79 yards.

JCA (4-6) travels to third-ranked Hubbertville for the first round of the Class 1A playoffs next week. Hubbertville beat the Red Devils 28-14 last week.

Verbena 24 24 6 16 — 70
JCA 0 0 8 0 — 8

V – Cole Mims 15 run (Dorrian Parker run)
V – Quandarius Ray 57 run (Mims run)
V – Mims 29 run (Hakeem Underwood run)
V – Parker 11 run (Mims run)
V – Underwood 25 run (Tristan Short run)
V – Juwan Tyus 27 pass from Short (Garrett Deavers run)
J – Daylon Brackett 12 run (Brackett run)
V – Stephen Wright 42 run (run failed)
V – Ray 42 run (Austin Knight run)
V – Short 20 run (Underwood run)

Fort Payne 14, Anniston 0

FORT PAYNE — Anniston was held to 107 yards of total offense and ended its season with its first regular-season shutout loss since 2009. The Bulldogs were last shutout in the opening round of the 2012 playoffs by Oneonta.

They got inside the 20 twice, but couldn’t punch it into the end zone. They had 52 yards rushing, 55 through the air.

Tae Miller caught two passes for 28 yards and one rush for 32. Lemuel Heard had six carries for 27 yards.

Central-Clay County 33, Handley 7

ROANOKE — The home team scored on the opening possession, but then it was all Central-Clay County as the Volunteers won their fifth in a row and locked up the No. 2 spot from Class 5A Region 3. The Vols (7-3) host Eufaula in the first round.

Cameron Peoples scored the tying touchdown and then Jaylon Lyles put them ahead for good with a 75-yard score. The Vols extended the lead to 21-7 at halftime. They scored on the first possession of the second half, then Payton Reynolds scored their final touchdown.

Ranburne 49, Westbrook Christian 24

RANBURNE — Dylan Wiggins accounted for three touchdowns and Dalton Wiggins for two as the Bulldogs completed their first undefeated regular season since 1990. The fifth-ranked Bulldogs (9-0) play Phil Campbell in their 2A playoff opener.

Dylan ran for one score and threw two touchdown passes to Brayden Wilson. Dalton ran for two scores.

The result allowed Weaver to clinch a 3A playoff berth with its win at White Plains.

First-round AHSAA playoff matchups
(Calhoun County teams only)

Class 6A
Oxford at Dothan

Class 5A
Alexandria at Madison County

Class 4A
Jacksonville at Locust Fork
North Jackson at Saks

Class 3A
Pisgah at Piedmont
Wellborn at Geraldine
Weaver at Plainview

Class 1A
JCA at Hubbertville
Decatur Heritage at Donoho

Area games
Wadley at Phillips
R.A. Hubbard at Ragland
Talladega Co. Central at Hackleburg
Cedar Bluff at Berry
Marion County at Spring Garden
Randolph County at Sulligent
Woodland at Red Bay
Phil Campbell at Ranburne
Sylvania at Glencoe
Munford at St. James
Westminster Christian at Cleburne County
Eufaula at Central-Clay County
Boaz at Lincoln
Etowah at Mortimer Jordan
Pell City at Carver-Montgomery
Pinson Valley at Southside-Gadsden
Hewitt-Trussville at Gadsden City

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