E.A. Sports Today

‘Not the same team’

In a matter of revenge they didn’t think was, Oxford’s Yellow Jackets blasts Muscle Shoals to reach 6A quarterfinals

Oxford’s Brody Syer (7) was a factor on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball in Friday’s Class 6A playoff game with Muscle Shoals. (All photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – “We are not the same team we were a year ago.”

Those were the words of Oxford head football coach Ryan Herring Friday night after his undefeated Yellow Jackets ended a week of throwback talk with a 34-7 win over the same Muscle Shoals team that beat them in the first round of the playoffs a year ago.

Last year, the Yellow Jackets went through the regular season undefeated and were stunned by the Trojans at home 31-17.

“Last year left a bad taste in our mouth, but it really had nothing to do with this game tonight,” said Herring. ”We have a much better defense and we have guys that are going out and making big plays. Five different guys scored in the game and these kids are just making big plays.”

To see a gallery of photos from Friday’s game, visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

With the win, the Yellow Jackets (12-0) advance to the Class 6A quarterfinals against Clay-Chalkville (10-2) and their first road game of the playoffs.

The defense was superb on the night as the No. 1 defense in the state came up with four interceptions and eight sacks. The Trojans (9-3) had 68 offensive plays in the game, but could not solve the Yellow Jacket defense once they got in Oxford territory.

The Yellow Jackets came up big early on the first drive of the game. The Trojans had driven to the Oxford 23 and were facing a fourth-and-8. Brody Syer broke through on a screen pass and returned the interception more than 50 yards to the Trojan 25.

Three plays later quarterback Abe Peoples sprinted around right end to stun the Trojans with a touchdown.

“That was a huge play and Brody made a good read on it,” Herring said.

”I guess I finally started listening to the coaches and I cut right into the pass and just took off,” said Syer.

William Muncher and Kendall McCallum sacked the Trojans quarterback for back-to-back losses on the next possession and forced a punt. Two plays later Peoples hit Dave Russell over the middle for a 43-yard touchdown pass and a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter that stood through halftime.

Muscle Shoals kept the edge in field position the rest of the half, but the Oxford defense was all over the field with a couple of big stops inside their own 35. Syer and Prentice Fomby added sacks and McCallum deflected a pass high in the air, intercepted it and then rambled 35 yards with the return.

Oxford only had 19 offensive plays in the first half, but made the most of them with 111 yards of offense. Muscle Shoals had it 31 plays for 124 yards of offense.

McCallum was a beast from his middle linebacker spot in the first half with five tackles, two sacks and an interception. This was his second game back after some late season injuries.

“My leg feels fine,” McCallum said. “I am just working hard trying to get my quickness back.”

A 36-yard return on the second half kickoff ignited the Yellow Jackets to start the third quarter. Tyetus Smith-Lindsey carried for 11 yards and scored on the next play from 19 yards out. Smith-Lindsey gained 150 yards on 17 carries.

The Trojans then put together their best drive of the night as they held the ball for 14 plays and drove it the Oxford 6. There, the Jackets defense stiffened once again and stuffed the Trojans on a fourth-and-3 to end the drive. Two penalties and a tackle eligible pass of 12 yards kept the drive alive.

A poor punt gave the Trojans good field position and they were able to punch in a touchdown on a 1-yard run by JSU prospect Carlos Davis.

As they have done all year, the Jackets responded with a score of their own. It took them just over a minute to drive it 62 yards. Smith-Lindsey bolted 37 yards and Gabe Webb scored from 18 yards out to open a 20-point lead.

“It was an awesome hole as the line did a great job,” Webb said. “They were the most physical team we have played all year.”

Syer was not through on the night as he picked off another pass midway through the final quarter and had another 55-yard return to the Trojan 13. Syer then came in on offense and caught the touchdown pass from Peoples to give the Jackets a 34-7 lead.

“Coach told me to stop the route and just do what you do and it worked out,” Syer said.

“He told me to get him the ball on offense and he would score,” Herring said.

Oxford quarterback Abe Peoples (2) rushed for the game’s first touchdown and threw for two other scores in the Jackets’ playoff win.

[table id=98 /]

Muscle Shoals 0 0 0 7 — 0
Oxford 14 0 7 13 — 34

O – Abe Peoples 13 run (Zane Barbao kick), 8:23 1Q
O – Dave Russell 43 pass from Abe Peoples (Zane Barbao kick), 5:22 1Q
O – Tyetus Smith-Lindsey 19 run (Zane Barbao kick), 11:35 3Q
MS – Carlos Davis 1 run (Andres Rios kick), 10:05 4Q
O – Gabe Webb 18 run (kick failed), 9:09 4Q
O – Brody Syer 6 pass from Abe Peoples (Zane Barbao kick), 5:32 4Q

Oxford’s Richard Cantrell (9) wraps up Muscle Shoals’s Elijah Jarmon. The Yellow Jackets’ defense was its typical dominant self, picking off four passes and recording eight sacks.

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