E.A. Sports Today

Oxford wins thriller

No. 5 Yellow Jackets sting No. 2 Pinson Valley on a tipped pass with 2:12 to play
By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today
PINSON – Fifth-ranked Oxford rallied twice and hung on through the final two minutes to end second-ranked Pinson Valley’s 29-game winning streak against Class 6A opponents with a thrilling heart-stopping 34-33 road victory Friday night.

The Jackets (5-0, 2-0) rallied for 27 straight points against the two-time defending state champions in the second and third quarter to go up by eight points with five minutes to go in the game. The Indians (3-2, 2-1) scored twice in a span of 37 seconds to re-take the lead 33-27 with 4:52 to play.
The touchdown that gave the Indians the lead back was set up by a kick-off that took a backward bounce around the 20 and was covered by the Indians. Two plays later the Indians looked like they were going to win for the second time in the game.

The Jackets were determined to win this one, however, as Trey Higgins hooked up with a 35-yard pass and a seven-yard pass to Zay Britt on spectacular sideline catches in front of the Oxford bench. Two plays later Higgins rolled out and fired a long pass intended for Rock Taylor, but the ball was tipped into the air and caught by Miguel Mitchell for the game-tying touchdown with 2:12 to play. Andrew Warhurst drilled the extra point through to put Oxford up 34-33.
The touchdown by Mitchell was his first of the season as he was pressed into service due to Devion Ball spraining an ankle.
“He is a young kid that played well and stepped up and made the play,” Oxford head coach Keith Etheredge said. “Coach (Will) Wagnon just called some great plays in the second half.”

It was still not over as the Indians roared back down the field. But they ran out of downs as the Jacket defense held them on fourth down at the 20 and the celebrating began.
“I am just happy for the kids,” Etheredge said. “They fought their rear-ends off. Our coaches made some great halftime adjustments.
“It was a roller-coaster game. We never gave up. We have a chance to be a special football team. We need to get some kids healthy, do not get complacent and stay hungry.”
The second-ranked Indians were the highest-ranked opponent Oxford has beaten since knocking off No. 2 Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa at home in 2017. It’s the highest-ranked opponent the Jackets have beaten on the road since taking down No. 2 Saks in 1997. They were 41-59 all-time against ranked opponents entering the game and had lost their last three.

The third quarter was all Oxford as the Jackets took the second half kick-off and drove it 83 yards in seven plays. The score came on a fourth-and-3 from the Indians 23 when Oxford quarterback Trey Higgins threw a jump ball into the end zone and 6-4 Rock Taylor came down with it.
Defensive back Delvin Fegans took matters into his own hands as he picked off two passes to set up two quick Oxford touchdowns that put it ahead 27-19. Traquan Fegans scored the first one on a six-yard run and Higgins threw another 23-yard jump ball touchdown to Taylor.
It was a horrific first quarter for Oxford as everything that could go wrong did. The Jackets came in to the game only allowing seven points all season in the first quarter and huge mistakes by the offense and a couple of breakdowns by the defense saw the Indians put three scores on the board and take a 19-0 lead.

The two-time defending state champions took advantage of a blocked punt off of Zay Britt to take over at the Oxford 22 early in the first quarter. After converting a fourth-down play Kenji Christian broke free on a counter play to score untouched. It was the first run of the game for the Indians as they started the game with eight consecutive passes. 

A poor Oxford punt set up the Indians at midfield on their next possession. It took them two passes from quarterback Barry White to stand-out receiver Keyonteze Johnson of 45 and 10 yards to go up 12-0.
The Indians picked off a Higgins pass on the next possession and took over at the Oxford 42. Johnson slipped behind the Oxford secondary again for a 37-yard touchdown to open up a 19-point lead.
“We made a lot of mistakes in that first quarter and they made us pay for it,” Etheredge said. “We just have to be smarter than that. We got caught out of position a couple of times, but we played good football in the second quarter and got ourselves back in the game.” 

Oxford finally got something going midway through the second quarter when Higgins hit Ball on a slant pass and Ball outran the Indian secondary to take it 85 yards for a score. Andrew Warhurst’s extra point was true to cut the lead to 12 points.

The Yellow Jackets hurt themselves again on their next possession when Britt threw an interception on an end around pass to stop a drive at the Pinson Valley 25. Another Oxford drive was stopped at the Indian 35 on downs as the half ran out.

Rock Taylor led Oxford receivers, despite having leg cramps, with five catches for 121 yards. Ball had three catches for 101 yards and Britt four catches for 61 yards. 
“It was a big win for us,” Taylor said. “We fought hard. Coaches told us to keep working hard and it would pay off and it did. We kept our heads up.”

Oxford 34, Pinson Valley 33

Oxf (34)PV (33)
16First downs14
30-43Rush yds20-58
324Pass yds327

Oxford             0  7  20  7  –   34
Pinson Valley 19  0  0 14  –  33
Scoring Plays
PV – Kenji Christian 14 run (pass failed), 6:32 1Q
PV – Keyonteze Johnson 10 pass from Barry White (run failed), 3:30 1Q
PV – Keyonteze Johnson 37 pass from Barry White (Adrien Maden kick), 1:30 1Q
O – Devion Ball 85 pass from Trey Higgins (Andrew Warhurst kick), 7:53 2Q
O – Rock Taylor 23 pass from Trey Higgins (pass failed), 7:27 3Q
O – Trequon Fegans 6 run (Andrew Warhurst kick), 6:22 3Q
O – Rock Taylor 23 pass from Trey Higgins (Andrew Warhurst kick), 5:27 3Q
PV – Kenji Christian 1 run (pass failed), 5:32 4Q
PV – Ga’quincy Mckinstry 22 pass from Barry White (Kenji Christian run), 4:53 4Q
O – Miguell Mitchell 38 pass from Trey Higgins (Andrew Warhurst kick), 2:12 4Q

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