E.A. Sports Today

Oxford opens big

Yellow Jackets use big plays to open big lead crush Chelsea in 6A playoff opener 55-14

Oxford DT Jaylen Swain devours Chelsea quarterback Caleb Moore during Friday night’s Class 6A playoff game. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – With four state championships on his resume, Oxford coach Keith Etheredge knows what it takes to be successful in the playoffs.
 
The Yellow Jackets struck early and often Friday night, opening the Class 6A playoffs with a roar, pasting Chelsea 55-14 at Lamar Field.
 
“It was a good win,” Etheredge said. “Just win and advance is what you do in the playoffs.”
 
It’s the seventh time in the last eight years the Yellow Jackets have won their opening round game, and third year in a row. They have outscored their last three opening-round opponents 127-35.

The Jackets (10-1) scored quickly and on all kinds of big plays as they only needed 20 offensive plays to roll to a 41-0 halftime lead. They piled up 445 yards of total offense and scored on plays of 54, 63, 73, 77, 24 and 1 yard.

Rock Taylor had a 12-inch height advantage on his defenders and the Jackets took advantage of it as he caught five balls for 182 yards and two touchdowns. His scores covered 54 and 24 yards and he had two other catches of 46 and 43.
 
“Trey put the ball in a good place and trusts me and I just try to go get it,” said Taylor.
 
That would be Trey Higgins. The quarterback was on fire with his throws, completing nine of 11 for 268 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran four times for 76 yards and a score.
 
“Our line just blocked great tonight and they worked their tails off all through the game,” Higgins said. “We had a match-up advantage with Rock and I could just throw it up and knew he would catch it. We came out with a win and get to move on.”
 
Zay Britt got a score on 63-yard punt return.
 
“I got some good blocking and just kept running,” Britt said. “It was kind of like my days as a freshman and sophomore returning punts.” 

Devion Ball is back from a mid-season injury and he caught a 78-yard pass from Higgins in the first half for a score. J.B. Carlisle only had seven carries for 37 yards and one touchdown.
 
“We got through all the injuries and we are really kind of fresh right now,” Etheredge said. “We were pretty banged up, but we got through and I think it has helped us to be a little fresher than normal for this time of year.
 
“We’ve got some kids that can run and they showed that tonight. It was win or go home and we played well on both sides of the ball.”

Oxford had scored 100 straight points in its last two games before Chelsea (6-5) scored the first of its two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

The Yellow Jackets move on to face Cullman (6-5), a 20-0 winner over Mae Jemison. All four teams from Oxford’s Region 6 won and represent half of the teams in the Northern part of the 6A bracket. A win at Cullman would send Oxford to face either Athens (8-3) or Clay-Chalkville (9-2). The Jackets would play at Athens and host Clay-Chalkville.
 
To see a gallery of photos from the game, visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

Chel (14)Oxf (55)
81stD10
32-7Rush18-124
1-10-1CAI9-12-1
113Pass268
2-2F-L0-0
6-34.2Punt2-26.0
4-30Pen10-100

Chelsea         0          0        0          14       –          14
Oxford          20       21       7          7         –          55
Scoring plays
O – Rock Taylor 54 pass from Trey Higgins (kick failed), 10:43 1Q
O – Zay Britt 63 punt return (Andrew Warhurst kick), 8:11 1Q
O – Devion Ball 78 pass from Trey Higgins (Andrew Warhurst kick), 7:10 1Q
O – Rock Taylor 24 pass from Trey Higgins (Andrew Warhurst kick), 10:58 2Q
O – Trey Higgins 77 run (Andrew Warhurst kick), 7:30 2Q 
O – J.B. Carlisle 1 run (Andrew Warhurst kick), 2:45 2Q  
O – Trequon Fegans 36 interception return (Andrew Warhurst kick), 4:27 3Q
C – Michael Gibbs 36 pass from Caleb Moore (Cooper Neal kick), 9:55 4Q
O – Miguel Mitchell 86 kickoff return (Andrew Warhurst kick), 9:24 4Q
C – Michael Gibbs 38 run (Cooper Neal kick), 7:02 4Q

Oxford quarterback Trey Higgins (3) looks to avoid Chelsea’s pressure. Higgins didn’t have it so bad, throwing for three touchdowns and running 77 yards for another. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

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