E.A. Sports Today

Quick work

Oxford finishes regular season strong, use running clock to make quick work of Sumter Central

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – It was over before it started one could say, as the clock was running continuously from the first play. The outcome of Oxford’s regular-season finale was never in doubt as the Yellow Jackets easily disposed of the Sumter Central 41-16 at Lamar Field Friday night.

The win gave Oxford an 8-2 record heading into next week’s Class 6A playoff opener at Hazel Green and this senior class the all-time record for wins in three consecutive years.

The class went 28-2 the last three years in the regular season. The old record was 25 by the classes of 1973 and 1982.

“It tells you something about the make-up of these seniors,” Jackets head coach Ryan Herring said.

The Yellow Jackets recognized 21 graduating seniors on Senior Night and hope to give them another home game in the playoffs. They started all seniors on their first play and quarterback Jordan Booker gained five yards on a run.

Both coaches agreed prior to the game to run the clock and it managed to keep the score down; Oxford beat the Jaguars, coached by former Donoho head coach Shannon Felder, 47-6 last year. The first half ended at 7:34 p.m. and the game at 8:29 p.m.

The Jackets’ only four possessions started at the Jaguars 16, 25, 37 and 45, and they needed only needed nine plays to score 27 points. They averaged scoring three points a snap in the first half alone.

Tyetus Smith-Lindsey ran wild, scoring on runs of 37, 21 and 1 yard. He exploded for 123 yards on six carries and had no carries in the second half. He finished the regular season with 18 rushing touchdowns.

“It really felt great out there,” Smith-Lindsey said. “We got the win and now we are ready to start the playoffs.”

In another statistical oddity, the Jaguars (1-9) made only five tackles in the first half. The Yellow Jackets, meanwhile, only had the opportunity to make nine tackles as incomplete passes were the offense of the Jaguars.

The running clock cut Oxford’s offense to just seven plays in the second half, but two touchdown passes from Trey Higgins to Devion Ball gave him three in the game on just six attempts. Higgins had a 5-yard touchdown pass to DeQuan Ball in the first half.

The 16 plays in the game were like a night off for the offensive coordinators as they only had to call four plays a quarter.

Jaguars quarterback Chris Millsap was throwing up balloons most of the night while trying to avoid Oxford defenders. He completed six of 24, with two going for 46 and 54 yards. The Jags managed 55 yards on their other 32 plays.

Antwon Feagins’ first-quarter interception led to Oxford’s first touchdown and he would have scored had not one of his fellow defenders come flying in and belted him to the ground.

“It was the hardest hit I had all night,” Feagins said. “It really hurt.”

The Jackets travel to Hazel Green (4-6), the runnerup from Region 6, next week to open the playoffs.

“We know what we have to do,” Herring said. “We have played the teams we have to beat once this season already and we were right there in the fourth quarter. It is going to take leadership from leaders on this football team from this point on to determine how far we can go.

“These leaders have to emerge and we have to get hungry and want more. Usually the teams that win the playoffs are the teams that want it the most. We have a long trip next week to get it started.”

Oxford 41, Sumter Central 16
Team stats SC Ox

First downs 7 9
Rushes-yds 10-27 10-154
Passes 6-24-1 5-6-0
Passing yds 128 114
Fumbles lost 0 0
Punts 0 0
Penalties-yds 2-10 1-10

Scoring summary
Sumter Central 0 0 8 8 – 16
Oxford 14 13 7 7 – 41

O – JeQuan Ball 5 pass from Trey Higgins (Andrew Warhurst kick), 8:48 1Q
O – Tyetus Smith-Lindsey 37 run (Andrew Warhurst kick), 3:04 1Q
O – Tyetus Smith-Lindsey 21 run (Andrew Warhurst kick), 8:40 2Q
O – Tyetus Smith-Lindsey 1 run (kick failed), 1:47 2Q
O – Devion Ball 16 pass from Trey Higgins (Andrew Warhurst kick), 8:45 3Q
SC – Derrick Hutchins 54 pass from Chris Millsap (Chris Millsap run), 1:13 3Q
O – Devion Ball 65 pass from Trey Higgins (Andrew Warhurst kick), 11:52 3Q
SC – Chris Millsap 16 run (Derrick Hutchins pass from Chris Millsap), 3:12 4Q

Notes from the huddle

GAME CHANGING PLAY: Oxford’s opening kick-off was caught at the 9 and the Jaguars’ receiver fell down. The next two plays saw the Jags get penalized for illegal substitutions and then Antwon Feagins picked off a pass at the 19. Two plays later the Jackets scored and led 7-0.

OXFORD OFFENSE: The line completely dominated a huge mismatch; the Jackets averaged 18 yards a carry in the first half … Smith-Lindsey gained 123 yards on 6 rushes in the first half and one of those rushes was a 1-yard run … Bell’s TD catch was his first of the year and he was untouched as got into the end zone.

OXFORD DEFENSE: The line put a huge rush on the Jaguars forcing their quarterback to run for his life on almost every snap … LB Kendall McCallum was back tonight and in good health. “We are getting people well. Kendall McCallum was back tonight and Kristin Booth should be ready for sure by next week, so from that aspect we are in pretty good shape,” Herring said … The secondary kept knocking each other down trying to pick off Jaguar passes. It probably cost them five interceptions on the night.

OXFORD SPECIAL TEAMS: Andrew Warhurst did the kicking on this night. The Jackets are still missing about one of every four extra-point kicks.

INSIDE THE OPPONENT: Sumter Central has only won 14 games in its history and lost 66. The Jaguars started football in 2011 and went 4-7, making their only playoff appearance. They are 10-59 in their last seven seasons, with their best record being 2-8 … The Jaguars only dressed 23 players, which was small even for a 4A team … There was very little gate money from Sumter Central fans as a quick count showed 13 people in the stands at the start of the game.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: The Yellow Jackets recognized players of the 1988, 1989 and 1993 state champions. Special recognition was given to former coach Robert Herring as each year going forward a scholarship will be given in his name.

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