E.A. Sports Today

Oxford milestone

Friday roundup: Yellow Jackets become 36th football program in state and second in Calhoun County to win 600 games; Piedmont’s Hayes adds another all-time state record to resume; JCA reaches championship game; Wellborn wins regular-season finale

Jacksonville’s G Turner lunges into the end zone for one of his touchdowns against Oxford Friday night. On the cover, Oxford’s Nick Richardson tries to squeeze everything he can get out his pass reception. (Photos by Greg Warren)

By Mark Everett Kelly
For East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD –- On the final Friday of the regular season, football fans in Calhoun County witnessed history and one of the best games of the 2022 season.

Oxford became the second Calhoun County football program and 36th in the state to reach 600 all-time wins Friday night when the Yellow Jackets edged Jacksonville 34-28 in the first meeting between the teams since 2001.

“It feels great,” Jackets coach Sam Adams said of the milestone. “I haven’t been here for most of those 600 wins, but this is a special place. It says a lot about the tradition of this program and the value this community puts on high school football.”

In 102 years of football, Oxford is now 600-383-44 all time. Alexandria is the only other program with more than 600 wins (624). Anniston is next closest at 593.

The Yellow Jackets had been stuck on 599 since beating Pell City 38-13 on Sept. 30. They were open the following week, then lost back-to-back road region games.

The 2022 season has featured many low moments for the Yellow Jackets and their young roster where the most productive players are ninth and tenth graders. Rising above expectations, their 3-3 record in league play and third-best offense in their region, has them traveling  to Gardendale Friday for the first round of the postseason.

Led by junior quarterback Jim Ogle, Jacksonville entered the game having won five straight. The Golden Eagles travel to Bibb County for their first-round playoff game next weekend, finishing with the third seed in Class 4 Region 4.

The first half saw Oxford execute a diverse offensive game plan. Led by sophomores running back Damious Wilson and quarterback Mason Mims the Yellow Jackets ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns, while completing 10-17 for 132 yards and a TD. The home team extended their lead to 31-14 when Wilson ran 58 yards for his third TD on the first play of the second half.

Wilson rushed for 200 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries. Mims was 14-of-22 passing for 173 yards and a score.

“This was a dog fight. We had to stay locked in and couldn’t get cocky,” said Wilson when asked how this win can help heading into the playoffs. “This builds our confidence and hopefully can help us make a big run in the playoffs.”

Trailing by 17, the visitors fought back. G Turner completed a nine-play 70-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run. Turner rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns.

Jacksonville’s next possession featured three consecutive plays completed only due to Ogle’s unique athletic ability. Facing fourth-and-3 at the Oxford 40, Ogle avoided multiple sacks and, running backward, completed a bullet pass for the first down. 

On the next play, Ogle again avoided many defenders and fired a perfect pass to Kydric Fisher in the corner of the end zone. Fisher caught 10 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns.

The final play in the quarterback’s troika saw him avoid multiple defenders before firing a pass to complete a two-point conversion, cutting Oxford’s lead to 31-28 with 10:36 remaining.

Ogle’s day, however, would end on a down note. After his defense held the Yellow Jackets to a field goal, Oxford’s defense knocked the ball loose at the 40 as the quarterback tried to run for the first down. Sims and Wilson handled the final 4:52 to secure Oxford’s historic victory.

After the game, Jacksonville’s head coach Clint Smith discussed how proud he was of the heart and effort his QB and team made, almost rallying from a 17-point deficit in the third quarter.

“I’m proud of how our team played and competed on the big stage against Oxford,” Jacksonville coach Clint Smith said. “We will learn from it and grow. We’ve got playoffs which is a one-game season coming up. Bibb County has an outstanding team, and we are going to have to play with this type of intensity to advance. We played our hearts out there tonight, and I’m proud of our kids’ effort.”

Jacksonville (7-3)7768 –28
Oxford (5-5)141073 –34

O: Damious Wilson 35 run (Rey Barrera kick), 8:52 1Q
O: Emari Carroll 20 pass from Mason Mims (Rey Barrera kick), 5:32 1Q
J: Kydric Fisher 19 pass from Jim Ogle (Mason Terrell kick), 3:35 1Q
O: Damious Wilson 42 run (Rey Barrera kick), 9:39 2Q
J: G Turner 3 run (Mason Terrell kick), 4:25 2Q
O: Rey Barrera 33 FG, 0:17 2Q
O: Damious Wilson 58 run (Rey Barrera kick), 11:42 3Q
J: G Turner 3 run (Mason Terrell kick), 7:47 3Q
J: Kydric Fisher 33 pass from Jim Ogle (6 pass from Jim Ogle), 10:36 4Q
O: Rey Barrera 34 FG, 4:58 4Q

Jacksonville’s defense takes down Oxford quarterback Mason Mims for a loss Friday night. (Photo by Greg Warren)

Piedmont 41, Sylacauga 20

SYLACAUGA – Piedmont quarterback Jack Hayes continued his march on the state’s football record book, moving to No. 1 in career total offense. 

The senior accounted for 474 yards and six touchdowns in the victory to pass Kristian Story on the all-time list. The Bulldogs will formulate his official tally to be registered with the state Saturday.

Preliminary counts have him 501 yards short of breaking Jamarcus Russell’s record for passing yardage. Hayes became the first player in AHSAA history with more than 150 career touchdown passes and 200 touchdowns accounted for in the game.

Hayes threw touchdown passes of 21, 76, 1 and 10 yards. He scored on runs of 64 yards – the longest TD run of his career to tie the game – and 13 yards to close Piedmont’s scoring. The amount of yardage associated with the touchdowns nearly accounted for all the 189 yards he needed to pass Story’s record.

Trent Hayes became the 20th player to catch a touchdown pass from Hayes when he snared a 1-yard pass with 4:01 left in the first half.

Quindavius Swain scored all three touchdowns for winless Sylacauga on passes from two different quarterbacks.

Piedmont (8-2)201470 –41
Sylacauga (0-10)6707 –20

S – Quindavius Swain 28 pass from Jahmari Jeffries (kick failed), 5:29 1Q
P – Jack Hayes 64 run (Sloan Smith kick), 3:56 1Q
P – Ish Bethel 21 pass from Jack Hayes (kick failed), 2:13 1Q
P – Ish Bethel 76 pass from Jack Hayes (Sloan Smith kick), 0:00 1Q
P – Trent Young 1 pass from Jack Hayes (Sloan Smith kick), 4:01 2Q
S — Quindavius Swain 52 pass from Jahmari Jeffries (Ethan Pruitt kick), 1:16 2Q
P – Max Hanson 10 pass from Jack Hayes (Sloan Smith kick), 0:06 2Q
P – Jack Hayes 13 run (Sloan Smith kick), 0:00 3Q
S — Quindavius Swain 34 pass from Connor Twymon (Shunsuke Endo kick), 3:27 4Q

JCA 46, Tabernacle 32

JACKSONVILLE – Quarterback Noah Lee was back in action from an injury and accounted for five touchdowns leading the Thunder to the 8-man state championship game, a rematch with Russell, the only team it’s lost to this season.

Lee completed 19 of 32 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for three scores. Travis Barnhill had 10 catches for 235 yards and had touchdowns rushing and receiving. Braxton Brown caught three passes for 99 yards and also scored rushing and receiving. Hunter Brown contributed 90 yards on 18 carries.

Wellborn 27, Cleburne County 9

HEFLIN – Ahmad Noel rushed for 112 yards and scored one of the Panthers’ three touchdowns in the first meeting between the teams since 2005. It was the Panthers’ first win in the series since 1998. Xavier Parker (62 yards) and quarterback Grayson Johnson also scored touchdowns for Wellborn. 

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