E.A. Sports Today

Punt, Mounties, Punt

Playing without SEC prospects McCallum, Webb, Oxford uses big plays to turn back Shades Valley

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – It was a strange game Friday night as Oxford used big plays to dispose of Region 6 rival Shades Valley 48-13.

The game brought back memories of 1972 “Punt, Bama, Punt” game when Auburn’s Bill Newton blocked two Alabama punts and David Langer picked both up and ran them in for a touchdown to give Auburn an unlikely 17-16 win.

Well, 46 years later, the feat was duplicated again at Lamar Field when Keon Fomby blocked two punts and teammate Denico Tanner ran them both in – both from 16 yards out – to score touchdowns in the first and third quarters.

“I was trying to make plays for the team and Kendall,” Fomby said, referring to sidelined teammate Kendall McCallum. “He is my man and I was dedicating this game to him, as he was out. We were just fighting adversity and trying to overcome his absence.”

Fomby also made six tackles on the night and broke up a pass play.

“It all started last week, when I got that punt block against Huffman,” Tanner added. “The coaches changed the way we set up and put Fomby where I was. He is the fastest guy we’ve got and he just came on the inside and it came right to me both times and I just picked it up and ran.”

The Yellow Jackets (6-1, 3-1) were without the services of all-state linebacker Kendall McCallum and all-state lineman Clay Webb.

McCallum, an LSU commitment, is awaiting a heart procedure Monday, while top prospect Webb was suspended a game for missing practice while dealing with a separate school-related issue that police investigating. However, both the offense and defense made adjustments and easily disposed of the Mounties (2-5, 1-3).

The Jackets were virtually shut down in the first quarter, but the defense did some scoring of its own. Fomby stormed through and blocked a punt at the 16 and Tanner returned it for a touchdown to put the Jackets up 7-0 midway through the first quarter. Tanner blocked a punt himself last week against Huffman for a safety.

The Mounties countered with a scoring drive of their own to tie the game and put together another drive in the second quarter and were kicking what would have been a go-ahead field goal that was blocked by Tanner.

“All the blocked punts and kicks were huge keys in the game; they got us going,” Jackets coach Ryan Herring said. “We felt like we could make something happen on punts with Fomby as he is so doggone fast on those type plays.”

Tyetus Smith-Lindsey went 80 yards on the very next play and the Jackets were up 14-7. A late drive saw the Jackets get it down to the 6, before time ran out in the half.

“It was a good night for us,” Smith-Lindsey said. “I just cut back to the inside and the hole was there. The line was great out there tonight. I did not get the ball a lot tonight, but I did not need it as much to get my yards. The coaches and line do such a great job.”

The Jackets erupted for 27 third-quarter points using big plays. Smith-Lindsey returned the second-half kickoff 89 yards, but got knocked down at the 5. Quarterback Trey Higgins got the touchdown one play later.

The Fomby-Tanner tandem hooked up for the next touchdown with their second 16-yard blocked punt. The Jackets forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Lindsey got another touchdown from 16 yards out.

The next score came after Carlisle rambled some 92 yards before fumbling it at the 3. An 8-yard punt by the Mounties came four plays later and set up the final 25-yard touchdown pass from Higgins to Jaylen Swain.

“It says a lot about our kids, when you got two players like we had out tonight and they play like they did,” Herring said. “This win secured us a play-off spot tonight and now we have to go to Clay-Chalkville next week and try to win home-field advantage in the first round.”

Oxford 48, Shades Valley 13
Team stats SV Oxf

First downs 9 12
Rushing yds 33-50 38-326
Passes 11-26-0 7-13-0
Passing yds 115 86
Fumbles lost 2 1
Punts-avg 5-25.0 3-32.0
Penalties-yds 7-78 7-27

Scoring summary
Shades Valley 7 0 0 6 – 13
Oxford 7 7 27 7 – 48

O – Denico Tanner 16 blocked punt return (Misael Reyes kick), 6:26 1Q
SV – Eryck Senior 37 pass from Isaac Sims (Braxdon Smith kick), 3:59 1Q
O – Tyetus Smith-Lindsey 80 run (Misael Reyes kick), 7:40 2Q
O – Trey Higgins 5 run (Misael Reyes kick), 10:58 3Q
O – Denico Tanner 16 blocked punt return (kick failed), 8:50 3Q
O – Tyetus Smith-Lindsey 16 run (Misael Reyes kick), 5:30 3Q
O – Jaylen Swain 25 pass from Trey Higgins (Misael Reyes kick), 3:04 3Q
O – Jonovan Carlisle 39 run (Misael Reyes kick), 10:08 4Q
SV – Antonio Williams 5 run (kick failed), 4:01 4Q

Notes from the Huddle

GAME CHANGING PLAY: The offense was struggling in the second quarter with only 11 yards net and no first downs when Smith-Lindsey burst through the right side of the line and outran everybody for an 80-yard touchdown. The Oxford offense settled down after that.

OXFORD BACKS: Smith-Lindsey picked up 110 yards on nine carries and now has 801 yards on 109 carries for the season and has 12 touchdowns. Jonovan Carlisle gained 161 yards on just six carries.

“The line was just opening some big holes to run through,” said Carlisle. “I got pulled down by my facemask on that long run, but I should not have fumbled the ball. No excuses.”

OXFORD RECEIVERS: Rock Taylor caught three passes for 38 yards, Zay Britt had 2 catches for 21 yards and Jaylen Swain had a 25-yard touchdown catch.

OXFORD DEFENSIVE LINE: This group was solid as a rock, only allowing 25 yards on the first 25 carries until the fourth quarter. They also got two blocked punts and a field goal. Kristin Booth had 6 tackles.

“They were fast and played fast,” Booth said. “They were a good team and we just have been relentless and stay on them and we did.”

OXFORD LINEBACKERS: All-state Kendall McCallum sat out Friday’s game as he was having some chest issues.

“I am going to be calling some of the defense plays from the sidelines,” he said. “I will have some tests done on Monday that will help me see where I am. Until then, I do not know. Right now I sure do not want to risk anything by playing.”

SPECIAL TEAMS: Misael Reyes missed an extra point, but was seven of eight on the night. Andrew Warhurst has done a good job of kicking off, but the coverage has been miserable as players get out of their lanes and are allowing run backs to midfield. “That is the biggest problem our football team has,” Herring said.

The Jackets changed midway through the game and started kicking short pooch kicks and picked up a fumble on one of the kicks. “We might as well kick it short, make them fair catch and at least keep them in their own territory,” Herring said.

OXFORD SECONARY: The secondary gave up 37- and 38-yard passes, but kept the Mounties out of the end zone the rest of the game until the reserves entered in the fourth quarter.

NEXT WEEK: The Jackets travel to Clay-Chalkville in a game that most likely will determine which team has an opening-round playoff game at home. Both teams have one loss, and that came to Pinson Valley.

The Cougars were second in the state in offense coming into Friday night averaging 39.9 points a game. Oxford was fourth, averaging 38 points a game. The Oxford defense is allowing 6.7 points a game, which is one-tenth of a point behind Saraland.

Clay-Chalkville is 83-14 on the field since 2011, 67-9 in the regular season. The Cougars have won the last four meetings between the two teams. Oxford won the previous three. All-time, the Cougars lead the series 9-4.

One interesting note in the series is that each team has captured a forfeit victory from the other due to ineligible players. Oxford had to forfeit a win in 2007 and Clay-Chalkville in 2011.

UNDER REVIEW: The review process was used on the last play of the half. The Yellow Jackets were at the 6 when they tried to call a timeout. The officials ruled the half was over. Replay confirmed they were correct.

It was used again in the third quarter and this time the Jackets got the call overturned, forcing Shades Valley to lose a first-down play and then force a fourth-and-1. The Jackets held on downs on the next play and took possession.

Going into the weekend, six calls or 18.8 percent of the 32 challenges statewide had been overturned.

EXTRA POINTS: Entering the game three Region 6 teams were in the Class 6A Top 10 – Pinson Valley (No. 1), Clay-Chalkville (No. 2) and Oxford (No. 7) … Oxford baseball player Chadd Adams put 13 footballs through the hoops in the TV24 Pre-Game Challenge. His 13 successful tosses in a minute put him in first place after 7 weeks of competition around Calhoun County … Oxford only had six offensive plays in the first quarter and no first downs, but were tied 7-7 thanks to one of Fomby’s blocked punts and return for a touchdown.

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