Despite dominating possession for most of the game with junior running back Recean Thomas and sophomore quarterback Ty Webber seemingly breaking tackles on almost every down while working their way toward the end zone, three costly plays ended up defining their outcome for the night.
Thomas looked to get things off to an early start with what could have been a drive-opening 80-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter, but it was called back for an illegal block.
The penalty proved to set the tone for the night as the Yellow Jackets fought for every inch on the field. They finally got points on the board six minutes and 17 plays later, as senior Joseph McGuire was able to shake off his coverage and get wide-open in the end zone.
But the lead was short-lived when Gadsden City capped a two-play drive with a 75-yard touchdown reception less than a minute later.
After driving for much of the second quarter to make it 14-7, Oxford’s second lead of the game was even shorter after the Titans returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown.
Things fell apart for good late in the third quarter. Tied 21-21 and driving deep in Titans territory, a costly botched snap on third down gave the ball to Gadsden City junior Cartel Carter, who ran the ball back 70 yards to put the Titans up for good.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Oxford coach John Grass about the big plays that cost his team. “You always know close games like this are going to come down to things like that.”
Grass was quick to deflect blame of his young players though, and praised his offensive line and Thomas for big games, keeping Oxford very much alive until the final minutes.
But he also knows things aren’t going to get any easier for the Yellow Jackets in the upcoming weeks.
“I’ve got to coach better,” he said. “We’ve got Huntsville and Florence coming up. This schedule is just getting harder.”
With the win, Gadsden City improved to 3-0 in 2012. Its next game is at Albertville.