E.A. Sports Today

Jackets make history

Oxford completes a 10-0 regular-season for best back-to-back run, ties all-time mark for fewest points allowed

Oxford quarterback Abe Peoples (2) threw for one touchdown and ran for two more in the first half Friday night. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – The Oxford Yellow Jackets capped the best two-year regular-season record in their history Friday night with a dominating 47-6 win over Sumter Central.

The Jackets have put together two perfect 10-0 seasons and will take a 20-game regular-season winning streak into next year. The previous best back-to-back run came when the 1971 and 1972 teams went 18-0-1.

“It takes good players to win and we’ve got good people that are good players,” Oxford coach Ryan Herring said.

To see a photo gallery from the game visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

The Jackets also tied their all-time record for fewest points allowed in a 10-game season, allowing only 54 points. A fumble at their own 1 against Gadsden City and a last-play-of-the-game touchdown against the second unit by Brewer kept the Jackets from finishing with the top defensive scoring average in the state in all classes. Still, they were No. 1 in Class 6A.

The lone score they allowed Friday came on a desperation heave by Jaguars quarterback Duane Ruffin late in the fourth quarter that fell into the hands of Derrick Hines, who took it 72 yards.

The Jackets totally dominated the first half and as a result the second half was shortened to two eight-minute quarters with a running clock. Oxford only ran nine plays in the second half, while Sumter Central only ran 11 plays.

The Jaguars (2-8) came to town with a familiar face. Shannon Felder, who carved out some outstanding seasons at Donoho before leaving two years ago, is the Jags head coach. He got the job in July, but came down with a severe case of E. coli before being able to really jump into it.

Even with their record they still has a chance to make the Class 5A playoffs after Central-Tuscaloosa forfeited several wins due to an ineligible player. They were in a three-way tie for the fourth spot that was to be determined by Friday night’s non-region games.

The Jackets stumbled out of the gate as they fumbled on the opening kickoff and started on their own 3. Quarterback Abe Peoples barely got out of the end zone on second down, but on third down sophomore tailback Tyetus Smith-Lindsey gave the Jackets tons of breathing room when he broke off a 70-yard run. He scored moments later from 5 yards out and the rout was on.

“I thought it was a terrible start,” Herring said. “I was thinking that they might get a safety on us, but when Tyetus took off on that run, it changed the whole game. They knew it was over at that point.”

Smith-Lindsey got his 21st touchdown of the season later in the quarter. Smith-Lindsey rushed for 92 yards on seven carries and now has 1,403 yards rushing this season and averages more than seven yards a carry.

Peoples hooked up with Richard Cantrell on a 16-yard touchdown pass before the first quarter ended and rushed for two touchdowns in the second quarter. Special teams set up Peoples’ two rushing touchdowns – a blocked punt and Brody Syer’s 45-yard punt return. Fullback Gabe Webb and Cameron Reynolds scored the Jackets’ other touchdowns.

The Oxford defense held the Jaguars to minus-10 yards of offense in the first half and only allowed eight plays for positive yards. The only Sumter Central first down came on a pass interference penalty.

The first defense held Sumter Central to minus-16 yards in the game. The Jaguars’ 99-yard touchdown drive came in the fourth quarter against the second unit. The Jackets have allowed only one scoring drive in the first half the entire season.

“Our kids deserve all the credit in the world for the defensive results,” Herring said. “It is just a lot of guys doing their job, staying in position and not being selfish. You can have a lot of athletes and fast guys, but if they do not play as a team, you do not have anything.”

With the regular season in the books, the Yellow Jackets are looking towards their playoff opener Thursday night against Hueytown. A win against Hueytown will give the Jackets a second-round game at either Gardendale or hosting Muscle Shoals.

It was a banged-up 10-0 Oxford team that lost in the first round a year ago to Muscle Shoals.

“We had a good week of practice,” Smith-Lindsey said. “We are going to have to put in a good week next week and be ready for the playoffs. We are taking it one game at a time and going to go back to work next week to get ready for Hueytown.”

The Jackets have been missing several key players over the last few weeks, but were able to move along without Peoples and inside linebacker Kendall McCallum. Peoples returned to the lineup last week and look for McCallum to be ready next week after sitting out Friday night’s game.

“We will have everybody back next week and our defensive starters should all be ready,” Herring said. “We are fortunate to have two quarterbacks that can start and Trey Higgins has done very well in filling in for Peoples.”

[table id=89 /]

Sumter Central 0 0 0 0 — 0
Oxford 21 20 0 6 — 47

O – Tyetus Smith-Lindsey 5 run (Zane Barbao kick), 9:05 1Q
O – Tyetus Smith-Lindsey 4 run (Zane Barbao kick), 4:32 1Q
O – Richard Cantrell 16 pass from Abe Peoples (Zane Barbao kick), 1:40 1Q
O – Gabe Webb 2 run (Zane Barbao kick), 10:03 2Q
O – Abe Peoples 5 run (kick failed), 8:15 2Q
O – Abe Peoples 9 run (Zane Barbao kick), 1:53 2Q
O – Cameron Reynolds 7 run (kick failed), 6:27 3Q
SC – Derrick Hines 72 pass from Duane Ruffin (PAT failed), 2:31 4Q

Oxford’s Dave Roberts (4) clears out the last Sumter Central defender giving Richard Cantrell (9) an open road to his first-quarter touchdown Friday night. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Friday night’s game was a homecoming of sorts for Sumter Central coach Shannon Felder (holding clipboard). Felder coached 11 seasons at Donoho from 2004 to 2014. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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