E.A. Sports Today

The first step

Higgins has another big game as Yellow Jackets rout Fort Payne to clinch Class 6A Region 7 title

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

FORT PAYNE – The top-ranked and defending state 6A state champion Oxford Yellow Jackets started the process of what they hope will lead to another state title Friday night with a 49-14 win over the Fort Payne Wildcats.

The win gave the Yellow Jackets (8-1, 6-0) the Class 6A Region 7 championship, their fourth region crown in the last five years. Fort Payne dropped to 6-3, 5-1 and will be the No. 2 playoff seed out of the region.

“It’s kind of our starting point for the rest of the season,” Oxford coach Keith Etheredge said. “It is an exciting time for Oxford football.”

It was a game marred by penalties. The Jackets were flagged for 193 yards and had play after play called back due to penalties, but still managed to roll up 554 yards of offense. There were 338 total penalty yards in the game.

Quarterback Trey Higgins was in control all night as he rushed for 118 yards on 13 carries and three touchdowns. He was even better passing, going 17-of-21 for 306 yards and three touchdowns.

“It was a tough game; those guys came to play and they are a good football team,” said Higgins. “We just tried to stay positive during all the penalties and figured that sooner or later they would not throw a flag and we can get a score. We could only control what we do and had no control over all those flags.”

Roc Taylor caught two touchdown passes and ended up with six catches for 104 yards.

“They lined up deep on me, surprised me with no double team and so we just went underneath and then I would just try to run by and over people and it worked out for a good night,” Taylor said.

The Wildcats struck first after punter Alex McPherson boomed a 75- yard punt to pin Oxford inside their own 10. The Jackets had to punt and the Wildcats got the ball at the Jacket 45- yard line. Six plays later, Darrell Prater snuck it in from the 1 and the Wildcats led 7-0.

Oxford answered in less than two minutes on a five-play, 75-yard drive with Higgins racing 37 yards for the score. Keeshon Siosi had a 20-yard scamper during the drive.

The Jackets put together a second-quarter drive that covered 60 yards and finally scored on an 8-yard pass from Higgins to Taylor. They had one touchdown called back on the drive and had to overcome two holding penalties.

Oxford punched first in the second half. Higgins carried for 23, hit Dakari Bailey for 22 yards and hit Taylor for 35 yards and a score and the lead was 21-7.

The Wildcats got it back to 21-14 with another Prater fourth-down plunge, but Oxford roared back with a couple of quick touchdown runs by Higgins and the Jackets were rolling 35-14.

The Yellow Jackets had a series of four plays during the fifth touchdown drive that really lit a fire under the team for the rest of the game.

Trequon Fegans returned a punt 90 yards for a score and it was called back by a penalty. Then, Higgins connected on a 58-yard pass to Josh Patton and it was called back by a penalty. Higgins then scampered 30 yards for a first down and it was called back by a penalty. On the fourth play, the Jackets brought Fegans in the game as a running back and he ripped off a 70-yard run on his only carry of the night.

Fegans blocked a Wildcats field goal attempt on the next series and ran it back 64 yards for a touchdown.

Fegans, who has five kick returns for touchdowns this season, had 219 total yards on three plays for Oxford during a three-minute span.

”On the kick block, Miguel was  picked up by a blocker and they did not block me,” Fegans said. “I blocked it and it took a great hop and I took off for the end zone with it.”

Higgins finalized the scoring with a 59- yard bomb to Warren Britt.

Oxford comes home next week to face Central-Phenix City. The Red Devils (6-3) are ranked No. 7 in Class 7A with the losses to Thompson, Hoover and Eufaula by a combined 13 points. They were state runner-up in 2019 and state champions in 2020.

Oxford                    7   7  14   21    –   49
Ft. Payne                7   0   7     0      –  14
FP – Darrell Prater 1 run (Alex McPherson kick), 9:05 1Q
O – Trey Higgins 37 run (Nicolas Gutierrez kick), 2:18 1Q
O – Roc Taylor 8 pass from Trey Higgins (Nicolas Gutierrez kick), 4:41 2Q
O – Roc Taylor 35 pass from Trey Higgins (Nicolas Gutierrez kick), 11:07 3Q
FP – Darrell Prater 1 run (Alex McPherson kick), 5:32 3Q
O – Trey Higgins 1 run (Nicolas Gutierrez kick), 2:25 3Q
O – Trey Higgins 4 run (Nicolas Gutierrez kick), 11:04 4Q
O – Trequon Fegans 64 blocked field goal return (Nicolas Gutierrez kick), 7:22 4Q
O – Warren Britt 59 pass from Trey Higgins (Nicolas Gutierrez kick), 4Q

Oxf (8-1, 6-0)FP (6-3, 5-1)
221st Downs9
306Passing yds71

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