A week after running back and Auburn commit Racean Thomas put up his most dominant performance of the season in a come-from-behind victory at Florence, he and wide receiver Tredarian Gamble showed a 1-2 punch in a 49-7 rout of Lee-Huntsville in Milton Frank Stadium.
Thomas was Thomas, accounting for 210 all-purpose yards and scoring on four straight rushes — touchdown runs of 10, 43 and 8 yards and a 73-yard kickoff return. He rushed for 117 yards before taking off the fourth quarter and part of the third after Oxford built a 49-0 lead.
Gamble, who transferred from Lincoln, caught four passes for 95 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown bomb from Ty Webber, and returned a punt 64 yards for the game’s first score.
Webber completed 8 of 10 passes for 156 yards, including a 10-yard scoring pass to Jacob Cook. It was more than enough for Oxford (4-2) to win its fourth game in a row after an 0-2 start and improve to 3-1 in Class 6A, Region 7. Lee fell to 2-4, 1-3.
“Me and ‘Roc’ (Thomas), we’re going to be tough to stop,” Gamble said. “Everybody thought it was going to be Roc’s team, but I came and changed it.
“It’s me and his team. It’s our team. It’s Oxford’s team.”
Thomas and Gamble accounted for 369 all-purpose yards.
Before the season, Oxford faced questions whether it would have receiving threats to support a passing game that would punish teams for loading up against Thomas.
The Yellow Jackets lost top seniors such as Jarrius Orr from 2012.
But Gamble brought in a home-run threat, and Cook and Ryan Stovall have proved capable. Stovall caught two passes for 40 yards Friday.
“Roc runs the ball really well for us, and we’ve always been able to have a good running game,” Webber said. “But now, Tredarian is here and Jake Cook and Stovall, and we have all of our other receivers, so we can spread it out a little bit.”
Thomas was coming off a 235-yard, four-touchdown performance at Florence, but he and Gamble took turns making big plays Friday.
Gamble’s punt return at 1:16 of the first quarter marked the game’s first points.
Oxford’s next possession saw Thomas run on all five plays and cover 54 yards, the final 10 on his first touchdown run of the night at 9:08 of the second quarter.
On the Jackets’ next play from scrimmage, Webber dropped back and lobbed the 40-yard touchdown pass, hitting Gamble in stride at 6:55 of the second quarter.
Then Thomas made it two one-play drives in a row with his 43-yard touchdown run for a 28-0 lead at 4:16 of the second quarter.
Thomas returned the second-half kickoff 73 yards for a score then ran in from 8 yards on the Jackets’ first play from scrimmage of the second half, after Kenyn Richey recovered and returned a fumble 27 yards.
First-year Oxford coach Ryan Herring, who coached Gamble at Lincoln, knows he has two big-play threats in Thomas and Gamble.
“The good thing is, both of them can return kicks, and both of them can return punts,” Herring said. “Both of them can score touchdowns. Gamble does it mostly catching the ball, and Roc does it running the ball.
“They set each other off really well.”
It all means Oxford’s opponents have more to fear than Thomas.
“Really, it opens up the run,” Thomas said. “Once we start coming to him, they’ll think he’s a target, and they’ll kind of take their eyes off of me a little bit.
“Once they start taking their eyes off me, we’ll just start running the ball.”
Oxford also showed passing-game threats besides Gamble on Friday, taking a 49-0 lead on Webber’s touchdown pass to Cook at 6:18 of the third quarter. The three-play drive featured three Webber passes -- a 15-yard screen and run to Gamble, a 22-yarder to a slanting Stovall and the fade lob to Cook.
Lee answered with its lone score of the night, Lorenzo Mastin’s 67-yard run up the middle at 5:07 of the third quarter.
The combined four touchdowns in the third quarter slowed attempts at a running clock, but the teams played an eight-minute fourth quarter. Oxford’s second-unit players played from late in the third quarter on.
Oxford has beaten Gadsden City, Huntsville, Florence and Lee since losing to Georgia power Carrollton, then-second-ranked Clay Chalkville to start the season. The Jackets scored more than 40 points against both Huntsville teams and shut out Gadsden City.
“It feels good,” Thomas said. “I have faith in my team. We all have faith in each other. We think we can do great things.”
Sports columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576, firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @jmedley_star.