Oxford started its first drive on offense with a 7-yard run by Auburn commitment Racean Thomas, but there was more to it than a simple gain. As Thomas went around the left end, he broke two tackles, then carried two more while falling.
It marked the beginning of a night in which the Yellow Jackets rushed for 340 yards, led by Thomas’ 230 on 20 carries. He scored four touchdowns on runs of 1, 2, 10, and 78 yards.
“We have to be able to run the ball, and we have to stop the run,” Oxford head coach Ryan Herring said. “That’s two things that have to happen every week, if we are going to win.”
Oxford (6-2, 5-1 Class 6A, Region 7) has won six straight. In addition, the Yellow Jackets have won 10 straight over Albertville.
Even when Thomas came out of the game midway through the third quarter because of the overwhelming lead, Oxford found production from other skilled players. Justin Smith carried the ball eight times for 64 yards, and Desmon Owens pitched in with 27 yards on three carries.
“Our offensive line isn’t just some line that is there. They actually block, do their job, and work hard. With our running backs working hard, too, it makes for a good combination,” Thomas said.
The Yellow Jackets found another way to score besides Thomas. With 7:47 left in the second quarter, quarterback Ty Webber found a sliding Jacob Cook in the back of the end zone from 19 yards out.
Defensively, Oxford got its second shutout of the year.
“Anytime you hold the other team to zero, you’re happy. I don’t care who you’re playing, you’re always happy, especially if you go on the road and get a zero,” Herring said. “I’m just proud of the way the kids played for four quarters.”
Oxford’s defense caused Albertville problems all night. The Yellow Jackets recovered two fumbles, and Colton Turner intercepted a pass.
“It felt pretty good,” Oxford’s Dylan Sipplin said. “We worked hard this week to come in and play well. We knew it was going to be a tough game here in Albertville.”
Oxford welcomes Pell City next Friday night with huge playoff implications. Last year, the Panthers beat the Yellow Jackets 34-28 to end their playoff dreams.
“Last year, it came down to the fourth quarter and they ended up beating us, and we ended up not going to the playoffs,” Sipplin said.