The Yellow Jackets slugged it out with Auburn Friday night at Duck Samford Stadium but couldn’t slow down the Tigers, who pulled away for a 48-34 victory.
“We knew it was going to be a four-quarter battle,” said Oxford coach John Grass. “You just knew it was going to be a playoff-caliber game and it definitely was. You saw two good football teams battle it out.”
Oxford (2-2) came in ranked No. 10 in Class 6A, but was playing for the first time without Alexander, a blue-chip college prospect with offers from both Alabama and Auburn, who suffered a torn ACL last week that knocked him out for the rest of the season.
Grass refused to use Alexander’s absence as an excuse.
“You’ve got to move on,” Grass said. “We had some folks tighten up and play well.”
Oxford led 21-13 in the first quarter, but Auburn (4-0, ranked No. 6 in class 6A) outscored the Yellow Jackets 28-6 over the next two quarters to take command of the game.
“We played well on offense. We gave up two big kickoff returns early that hurt us. I think you take those two plays out of there and it could have made a difference. We got down in the red zone a couple times late and couldn’t score. If we get those points, maybe it’s a little bit different game.”
Passing mainly to Coty Spurling and Trae Elston, Oxford quarterback Jackson Stephens completed 19 of 34 passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns.
Stephens came out of gate slinging. His first pass of the game resulted in a 63-yard touchdown to Elston.
“He had a big night, the wide receivers had a big night,” Grass said. “The offensive line played well. We’ve just got to regroup and play better in the second half of region play.”
Running back Racean Thomas rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
“We played well in some areas, but we’ve got to get better in some areas,” Grass said.
Auburn was led by duel threat quarterback Cameron Echols-Luper who completed 10 of 15 passes for 174 yards and rushed 24 times for 133 yards.
“You can’t hem that kid up in a phone booth,” Grass said. “He’s awfully hard to stop.”