E.A. Sports Today

Second shutout

Yellow Jackets turn back another opponent with stifling defense, this time it’s Pell City at Homecoming, 33-0

Oxford’s Kristin Booth (9) breaks through the Pell City line to get a beat on Panthers quarterback Mitchell Gossett. On the cover, Kendall McCallum wraps up Gossett. (Photos by B.J. Franklin)

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

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – The numbers are staggering as you look at this Oxford High School defense and the story is pretty much the same every week.

The victim Friday night was visiting Pell City. The Panthers were unbeaten and much improved, but they could only muster only 92 total yards of offense on 52 plays and fell to the second-ranked Yellow Jackets 33-0.

It was Oxford’s 23rd straight regular season victory. In that stretch the Yellow Jackets have held their opponents to seven points or fewer 15 times with eight shutouts. They have given up six points all this season and posted two shutouts.

Pell City challenged Oxford on their opening series. The Panthers took the opening kick and after three plays it was fourth-and-inches at their own 35 yard line. After showing punt, they changed their minds and went for it against an Oxford defense that was allowing less than 18 inches per rush for the season.

The Oxford defensive line crashed the play in for a two-yard loss. Five plays later, all-state running back Tyetus Smith-Lindsey got around the corner for a 15-yard touchdown run and it was all the points the Jackets would need.

The Jackets spread the ball all over the field as quarterback Trey Higgins hooked up with Rock Taylor on an 81-yard touchdown pass. The ball went more than 50 yards in the air, hit Thomas in stride and he outran the secondary the last 31 yards.

The second half saw the Oxford defense impose its will on the Panthers. The Jackets pounded Pell City quarterback Mitchell Gossett with four sacks and multiple hits on pass attempts.

“We came in expecting a shutout and we got what we wanted,” linebacker and LSU commitment Kendall McCallum said. “We had a great game, but we still got some things to clean up and get better at.”

Pell City came out in a spread formation that had four receivers split way out in the shape of a diamond and that gave the Jackets some problem early as the Panthers completed seven first-half passes.

“We did not think that they do that so much, so we played it safe first and we gave up some plays,” Oxford coach Ryan Herring said. “However, we made some adjustments and brought our defenders up tighter and we were able to stop it.”

The Jackets enjoyed great field position in the second half as they only started one possession in their own territory and that was their own 45.

The Panthers’ defense stopped Oxford three times on fourth down in their own territory. The Jackets offense finally wore it down as Jonovan Carlisle bulled his way in on a 20-yard sprint in the third quarter.

Zay Britt took it on a brilliant 17-yard touchdown run that saw him use the entire field to get the job done.

Taylor then showed some finesse as he scored the Jackets last touchdown on 12-yard corner route. He looked up over his shoulder made the catch and came down with one foot just getting down as he was falling to the ground.

He caught eight passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns in the game and now has four touchdown catches on the season and more than 350 yards.

“We have been working together since the sixth grade; we have a special bond,” Higgins said.

“We practice that throw to the corner of the end zone in practice all the time,” added Taylor.

Oxford 33, Pell City 0

Team stats PC Oxf
First Downs 7 16
Rushing Yards 33-14 43-245
Passing 8-19-0 10-16-0
Passing Yards 78 194
Fumbles lost 0 0
Punts-avg 10-36.0 3-28.0
Penalties 8-60 4-50

Scoring summary
Pell City 0 0 0 0 ¬ 0
Oxford 13 0 6 14 – 33
O – Tyetus Smith-Lindsey 15 run (Misael Reyes kick), 9:23 1Q
O – Rock Taylor 81 pass from Trey Higgins (kick failed), 4:41 1Q
O – Jonovan Carlisle 20 run (kick failed), 7:19 3Q
O – Zay Britt 17 run (Jaylen Swain pass from Trey Higgins), 11:02 4Q
O – Rock Taylor 12 pass from Trey Higgins (run failed), 7:17 4Q

Tyetus Smith-Lindsey dashes into the end zone for the first touchdown in Oxford’s 33-0 Homecoming win over Pell City. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

Notes From The Huddle

GAME CHANGER: On the first possession of the game the Panthers were faced with fourth-and-inches. They sent the punt team on the field, but after the measurement sent the offense back on the field. They tried a run into the middle of an Oxford defense that came into the game allowing only 32 yards on 66 carries.
The Panthers lost 2 yards as Denico Tanner blew the play up and the Yellow Jackets took over. Five plays later it was 7-0 Oxford.

OXFORD OFFENSIVE LINE: The line was stopped three times on fourth down in the game and that had Herring a bit concerned. “We were making some mistakes in the offensive line,” he said. “We have to clean that up and did some as the game went on, but we have to keep working to clean that up.”

OXFORD BACKS: Tyetus Smith-Lindsey rushed for 92 yards on 20 carries, Jonovan Carlisle had 56 yards on 10 rushes, Trey Higgins picked up 49 yards and Zay Britt had 25. The passing offense was the best of the year.

OXFORD DEFENSIVE LINE: Octavious Adair, Jalen Swain and Kristin Booth controlled the line of scrimmage. Swain and Booth both had two sacks.

OXFORD LINEBACKERS: Kendall McCallum had 8 tackles and Prentice Fomby added 6 tackles. The Jackets have only allowed 308 yards this season in three games.

OXFORD SECONDARY: The secondary held Pell City to 78 passing yards and has only given up 198 on the season.

SPECIAL TEAMS: The Jackets continued their use of two kickers, senior Misael Reyes and junior Andrew Warhurst (kickoffs). Warhurst got off three first-half high kicks to the 15 and the Panthers were held inside their own 26 all three times. This was a huge improvement over the first two weeks. Reyes, though, had some problems. “He always hits them right down the middle; all of a sudden he missed two in a row, so we have to find out what is going on there,” coach Ryan Herring said. “That is why we went for two there in the fourth quarter.”

NEXT WEEK: The Jackets are on the road next week, traveling to face Charles Henderson High School in a game to be played on the campus of Troy University. It will be the first meeting ever between the two schools. The 5A Trojans were state champions in 1980. They have made the playoffs eight straight years. Their only loss this season came to 7A Enterprise 35-28. They made it to the state championship game in 2013 before losing to Oneonta.

Oxford quarterback Trey Higgins (3) had perhaps his best game of the year, throwing for 194 yards and two touchdowns in the Yellow Jackets’ 33-0 victory. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

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