E.A. Sports Today

Jackets overpowered

Oxford falls on the road to No. 4 Clay-Chalkville, guaranteed to open Class 6A playoffs on the road

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

CLAY – Two third-quarter touchdowns broke open a tight defensive struggle and Clay-Chalkville took a 27-6 victory from Oxford Friday night at Jerry Hood Field in a game that impacted both teams’ playoff travel plans.

The win clinched a first-round home game for the Cougars (7-1, 4-1) while Oxford (6-2, 3-2) will open the playoffs on the road.

Coming into the game Oxford had the second-ranked defense in Class 6A, while Clay-Chalkville was the No. 1 offense (Oxford was third), but in the first half it was a battle of wills as both defenses were playing championship football.

Both offenses had two drives into their opponent’s territory. The Cougars managed a couple of Nate Brisco field goals, while Oxford was stopped twice on fourth-and-1 inside the 30.

“They had some guys that could play on that defensive line; it was a tough physical game,” Oxford coach Ryan Herring said. “They just played tough on us up front.”

The Jackets found success running the football straight at the Cougars, but an illegal procedure penalty hurt them on their first trip into Cougar territory. A couple of late-hit calls help to extend the two Cougar scoring drives.

Cougar quarterback Willie Miller was able to connect on his first five passes over the top of the shorter Oxford defensive backs. He was 6-of-9 in the first half for 75 yards and ended the night 12-of-16 for 232 yards.

Oxford had four trips into the red zone and was stopped on downs three times. They scored the fourth time on a Tyetus Smith-Lindsey 1 yard run.

TSL rushed for 104 yards on 22 carries in the game. Rock Taylor caught two passes for 21 yards and Zay Britt had four catches for 11.

“We have got to get our offense a lot better if we are going to help our team win the state,” Smith-Lindsey said.

The Yellow Jackets’ two losses this season have come to Pinson Valley and Clay-Chalkville, teams with a combined record of 14-2 and entering the week ranked 1 and 4, respectively, in Class 6A.

Oxford can lock up the No. 3 seed from the region by beating Gardendale on the road next week. The Jackets would be No. 4 if they lose.

“We have lost to two of the best teams in the state and have been in the game, but we have got to find a way to get just a little bit better,” Herring said. “We missed some tackles and made some mistakes that just really hurt us.

“We have seen what they have, they have seen what we have and to win the state we are going to have to come right back over here in a few weeks and beat these same guys.”

Clay-Chalkville 27, Oxford 6
Team stats Oxf CC

First downs 9 14
Rushes-yds 35-134 22-115
Passes 8-14-0 12-16-0
Passing yds 40 232
Fumbles lost 0 0
Punts-avg 4-33.0 3-29.0
Penalties-yds 6-50 8-60

Scoring summary
Oxford 0 0 0 6 – 6
Clay-Chalkville 0 6 14 7 – 27

CC – Nate Brisco 20 FG, 9:04 2Q
CC – Nate Brisco 27 FG, 3:18 2Q
CC – Anthony Longheed 28 pass from Willie Miller (Nate Brisco kick), 9:59 3Q
CC – Courtney Braxton 3 run (Nate Brisco kick), 0:29 3Q
O – Tyetus Smith-Lindsey 1 run (kick failed), 6:39 4Q
CC – Willie Miller 21 run (Nate Brisco kick), 1:33 4Q

Notes from the huddle

Game Changing Play: Oxford had a chance to go ahead 7-0 late in the first quarter, but a motion penalty shut a drive down and the Jackets were stuffed on a fourth-and-1 and never got the offensive momentum back again until early in the fourth quarter.

Oxford Offensive Line: All-State lineman Clay Webb was back in the lineup after sitting out last week for disciplinary reasons. The Jackets had some success running straight at Cougars’ huge defensive line that was 310, 285 and 290 across the front.

Oxford Defensive Line: The line shut down the run in the first half allowing only 29 yards on 13 carries. Jaylen Swain and Kristin Booth were their usual disruptive selves with four tackles and three tackles, respectively. Swain had a huge tackle for a 5-yard loss on the 3 to force a Cougar field goal.

Oxford Linebackers: Kendall McCallum made it through his heart examination Monday and the news was good. He will be back next week, but has missed the last two games.

Special Teams: Andrew Warhurst did the kicking on this night. He only had two kick-offs. He hit his first extra point attempt, but there was a penalty and he missed the re-kick.

Next Week: The Jackets are back on the road to face Gardendale. The Yellow Jackets are 3-4 all-time against the Rockets. The teams first met in 1982 and played five times in the 80s and twice in the 90s, but this is the first meeting in 27 years.

The Rockets have never won a game scoring less than 10 points (0-40). They will have a tough time figuring out how to get 10 against an Oxford defense that is only giving up 6 points a game.

Random Notes: Region 6 will match up with Region 8 in first round play-off games. On paper that appears to be good news for Region 6 as Region 8 is one of the weakest in the state. Fort Payne (5-3 overall) leads the region, followed by Hazel Green (4-5), Albertville (4-4) and Mae Jemison (3-6). Look for all four Region 6 teams to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. … The Oxford dressing room was so far away from the field that a shuttle bus should have been there for the media. The Cougars dressing room is just beyond the end zone and the visiting locker room used to be there, but it was moved for this game.

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