It came one week after Oxford picked up its first win the season in a defensive battle with Gadsden City,
Against Huntsville, Oxford’s attack was led by quarterback Ty Webber, who finished 10-of-19 passing for 167 yards and three touchdowns.
The junior added 79 yards on the ground.
“We got some stuff going in the passing game,” Oxford coach Ryan Herring said. “And, of course, our quarterback did a good job on some quarterback runs. That was a difference.
“Being able to get the quarterback running well and getting some stuff in the passing game going, those were the two biggest things that got the offense going.”
Oxford (2-2, 2-1 Class 6A, Region 7) fell into an early hole after a 58-yard run by Huntsville’s Deonta Moore set up a 10-yard touchdown run by quarterback Brewer Hicklen with 8:23 to go in the first quarter.
The Yellow Jackets rattled off 28 unanswered points on four straight possessions but not without a couple scares for star running back Racean Thomas.
After dealing with a sprained ankle the past two weeks, Thomas was dropped for a 6-yard loss on his first carry of the game and limped to the sideline. He didn’t stay gone for long, though.
Webber made a great play to set up Thomas’ first touchdown of the night. Under pressure, the quarterback scrambled and looked as if he was going to tuck the ball and run.
Just before he reached the line of scrimmage, Webber stopped and found wide receiver Tredarian Gamble, who carried the ball down to the Huntsville 10-yard line.
“That was a big play,” Herring said. “That was a big play for us. (Webber) is getting better, and that’s what we need. We are in the shotgun every play.”
Herring added, “When you are in the gun every play, your quarterback has to be able to do things, either with his feet or with his arm. And he’s doing a little bit with both. So right now, that’s big for us.”
Two plays later, Thomas carried the ball in from 1-yard out, tying the game at 7 with 4:45 to go in the first quarter after the first of six successful PATs from kicker Cooper Lewis.
Gamble struck again on Oxford’s next two possessions. Coming in motion from his receiver spot, Webber handed the ball to Gamble, who found a huge hole and outran the defense 68 yards to the end zone.
The Yellow Jackets went up by two scores a couple minutes later when Webber found Gamble – who finished with five catches for 108 yards -- on a 25-yard pitch and catch with 10:43 to go in the first half.
Oxford is used to getting big plays from Gamble from week-to-week, but another receiver stepped up in big spots down the stretch.
With the Yellow Jackets knocking on the door at the Panthers’ 7-yard line, Herring decided to roll the dice and go for it on fourth down. Webber rolled out to the right and found Jacob Cook in the back of the end zone.
Cook came up big again on another fourth down during Oxford’s first drive of the second half. Webber heaved the ball towards the end zone where Cook came up with a diving catch from 22 yards out, putting the Yellow Jackets up by 21 with 7:15 to go in the third quarter.
“Tredarian has been solid every week. He was solid tonight,” Herring said. “Jake Cook came in and had two great catches, big touchdown catches. We’ve known Jake was a good football player. We just haven’t really gotten to him enough for whatever reason. But tonight, we got it to him, and he made plays.”
After heading to the locker room midway through the second quarter with cuts to his chin and above his eye, Thomas capped his night with two impressive runs. He picked up 30 yards, setting up a spectacular 10-yard touchdown run that all but proved his ankle is doing just fine.
Thomas took the handoff and looked to run right. With no room in sight, he stopped in the backfield, juked two defenders and headed the opposite direction, scoring Oxford’s final points of the night. He finished the night with 14 carries for 112 yards.
Huntsville’s final points were scored late in the second quarter when Hicklen tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Brett Nolfo with 18 seconds to go before the break. The Yellow Jackets defense shut out the Panthers in the second half.
Oxford travels to Florence next Friday.