E.A. Sports Today

Oxford wins Brother Bowl

Yellow Jackets’ starters open 27-0 halftime lead, give Ryan Herring win over older brother

Oxford's Dave Russell (16) streaks through the Talladega defense with his 18-yard touchdown catch late in the first quarter Friday. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Oxford’s Dave Russell (16) streaks through the Talladega defense with his 18-yard touchdown catch late in the first quarter Friday. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — Round One of the Brother Bowl goes to Herring the Younger.

Oxford and Talladega opened their seasons with an intriguing family feud Friday night where Ryan Herring went head-to-head against older brother Robert and Ryan’s Oxford team got the better of it 27-6 at Lamar Field.

“I grew up the first 15 years of my life losing to him in everything we did,” Ryan Herring said. “Probably going against him all the time made me want to be a winner and probably turned me into who I became.

“I got about 16 years old when I finally could beat him at, say, pick up basketball or a race or anything. That was huge for me. He always set the bar that I tried to reach. He’s my brother and I love him.”

The teams will play again here next year.

One of the more keenly interested spectators at the game was the coaches’ father, legendary Oxford coach Robert Herring Sr. The family patriarch sat in his usual spot in the upper corner of the visitors’ bleachers watching the game with a coach’s eye, not rooting for one son over the other but for both teams to play hard.

He has seen his sons play on the same team and coach on the same staff, but Friday night was the first time they had ever coached against each other. The teams come back to do it again here next year.

“It’s the first time in my 45 years (in athletics) I can go home being a winner and a loser,” the elder Herring said before the game and after the brothers met at midfield. “I talked to both of them (Thursday) night and said just play hard and whatever happens will happen and you’ll get up Monday morning and go again.

“You want both of them to do good. It’s going to be tough to watch one of them lose.”

Oxford, the preseason No. 6 team in Class 6A, made the point early that wasn’t going to be them.

The Yellow Jackets’ defense, anchored by four-star linebacker recruit Kenney Britt Jr., stopped Talladega’s first two possessions with interceptions and gave the Tigers a tough time in general. They held Talladega without a first down until the Tigers final possession of the first half.

“Me and my brothers had a good time,” Britt said. “We came in with high expectations; we won’t have it any other way. We preached all week let’s play. We were swarming. We know if we just run to the ball it’s going to be a long game for anybody.”

Oxford did all its scoring in the first half, then turned it over to the backups. Tyetus Lindsey scored on two short touchdown runs, quarterback Abe Peoples threw an 18-yard TD pass to Dave Russell and Jordan Swain ran for a score.

Britt made several big hits and almost scored on special teams. He took a fumbled punt that caromed off a Talladega player’s helmet and raced 52 yards before being dragged down inside the 10.

“I was like, ‘Man, I need to score;’ I was trying to, but (his tackler) took a good aim,” Britt said. “It would’ve been cool, but everything happens for a reason. Maybe it wasn’t meant for me to score. If I were to score I’d be happy, but I’m just happy I ran it back.”

And the Jackets got the “W.” They won only three games last season.

Britt and the Jackets denied Talladega an opportunity in the red zone right before halftime. The Tigers got all the way to Oxford’s 1, then had a false start from a rare snap from under center and never got back. They did avert the shutout against the Oxford reserves when quarterback Ashton Duncan ran in from the 3 with 4:10 to play.

Duncan rushed for 69 yards on 17 carries and impressed the Yellow Jackets with his toughness.

“We’d have liked to get the shutout … (but) any time you get a win in your first game you’re happy. I don’t care if you’re with the Dallas Cowboys or with the Oxford Yellow Jackets, starting out with a win it’s nice,” Ryan Herring said. “Everything was good. It was a good learning experience for us.”

Britt was glad to be on the field after a summer full of camps and recruiting activities. He had been expected to make a verbal commitment in early August, but the projected date passed without an announcement.

His focus now is on the season underway and helping his team get better each week.

“I wasn’t ready to do it,” he said. “If I commit now that might take some of the fun out of it. I wasn’t 100 percent sure where I was going. I thought I was, but I just wasn’t ready and I wasn’t going to do it if I wasn’t ready.

“This is going to be the biggest decision I’ll ever make in my life. I’m not trying to hold out forever, I’m not going to be one of those last-minute type guys, I’m just trying to get a better feel.”

Before the game, the Oxford City Schools Education Foundation, a not-for-profit system support group, presented OHS seniors Emory Webb and Rachel Williams with its Jenny Howell Volunteer of the Year Award. Foundation executive director Cindy Williams described the award winners as “excellent examples to the younger classes about giving of their time.”

On the cover: Oxford coach Ryan Herring (L) and his brother, Talladega coach Robert Herring, visit at midfield before their game Friday night.

Cam Lemons (18) leads the way as Oxford's defense swamps Talladega quarterback Ashton Duncan. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Cam Lemons (18) leads the way as Oxford’s defense swamps Talladega quarterback Ashton Duncan. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)


Talladega 0 0 0 6 — 6
Oxford 13 14 0 0 — 27

O – Tyetus Lindsey 4 run (Keaton Borrelli kick), 8:38 1Q
O – Dave Russell 18 pass from Abe Peoples (kick failed), 1:23 1Q
O – Lindsey 2 run (Borrelli kick), 7:03 2Q
O – Jordan Swain 3 run (Borrelli kick), 3:58 2Q
T – Ashton Duncan 3 run (kick blocked), 4:10 4Q

Team stats Tall Oxf
First downs 9 11
Rushes-yds 31-128 28-168
C-A-I 7-13-2 6-10-1
Passing yds 75 55
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0
Punts-avg. 2-37.5 1-30.0
Penalties-yds 7-39 5-60

Talladega's Jae-Lyn Russ (61) prepares to wrap up Oxford's Jordan Swain. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Talladega’s Jae-Lyn Russ (61) prepares to wrap up Oxford’s Jordan Swain. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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