Thomas rushed for 116 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown run, and Ty Webber threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Tredarrian Gamble to lead Oxford to a 14-10 victory over Oak Mountain.
Thomas’ performance included runs of 40 yards on his first carry and a 35-yarder later in the first half. His only action in an abbreviated second half was his 38-yard punt.
One of the nation’s top running back recruits, Thomas then spoke with two reporters about the game and his decision to choose Auburn.
“I just trust the coaches,” he said. “I think they’ll help me out with my future and help me do great things in life.”
Thomas committed Aug. 2, choosing Auburn from long list of offers that included Alabama, LSU and Florida in the SEC. He said Auburn’s hurry-up spread offense was a good fit.
“I’ve watched highlights on what they do, and I’ve just picked stuff up,” said Thomas, rated the nation’s No. 3 running back prospect by Scout.com. “It’s really stuff we do on our team.”
Asked if he had a message for Auburn fans, he said, “War Eagle.”
He and his teammates did enough against the Oak Mountain Eagles on Friday, scoring a victory in Ryan Herring’s first preseason jamboree as his alma mater’s head coach.
“Oxford, obviously they’ve improved from where they were at this time a year ago, and I thought they were pretty good a year ago,” said Oak Mountain coach Cris Bell, whose team played a jamboree at Oxford in 2012. “And Thomas, we won’t have anybody who can tackle him. That’s for sure. He certainly deserves all the accolades that he has.
“I think Coach Herring has done a pretty good job of establishing his identity on the team, and I think his kids are playing hard.”
Oak Mountain got on the scoreboard first, because of Blake Miller’s 42-yard field goal at 5:59 of the first quarter.
Oxford answered with an 80-yard drive. Thomas got it going with his 40-yard run and capped it with his touchdown run.
“I had an opening, but it closed fast,” Thomas said of his 40-yard run. “I just bounced it to the outside, just tried to get what I could, and it turned out good.”
An Oak Mountain fumble helped set up the Yellow Jackets’ next score, Webber’s strike to Gamble on fourth down and 13 to put Oxford up 14-3 at 1:25 of the first quarter.
“Great throw,” Herring said. “He had some real good throws. Really impressed with Ty tonight, which I was expecting him to do well, any way.”
Webber hit on 12 of 17 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s got great eyes. He can read well,” Thomas said. “That helps me out, a lot.”
Oak Mountain’s touchdown came on quarterback Warren Shader’s sneak at 1:11 of the second quarter.
The two teams played second-unit players through a scoreless and abbreviated second half.
“I was happy,” Herring said. “I thought we had good effort. We had about two or three mental errors on defense, and that equated to 10 points. Take that away, I think all night was good effort and hard play.”
Sports columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576, firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.