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Class 6A playoffs: Carlisle helps carry Oxford into the quarterfinals

Oxford Cullman

Oxford's J.B. Carlisle breaks a long gain at Cullman.

CULLMAN — With conviction in his voice, Keith Etheredge made a strong statement about star running back J.B. Carlisle following Oxford’s 35-0 win over Cullman Friday night.

“If he isn’t the best running back in the state, I’d like to see who is,” the Oxford head coach said. “He’s a beast. He’s a great young man.”

Carlisle tried his best to validate his coach’s statement against the Bearcats. He started his second-round playoff performance with a 40-yard rushing touchdown on his fourth carry of the night. His 11th and 19th carries went for touchdowns, too, en route to a 20-carry, 231-yard, three-touchdown evening against the Bearcats. He had a 69-yard carry, too, that helped set up quarterback Trey Higgins’ third-quarter score to extend Oxford’s lead to three touchdowns.

“First off, glory to God and second off, glory to my offensive line,” Carlisle began when asked about his performance. “The offensive line did most of the work tonight by opening up the holes and I just tried to make my opportunities count.”

What to know

—Oxford star receiver Roc Taylor injured his right knee on the Yellow Jackets’ fourth offensive drive of the game when he was tackled on an end-around run, which lost 4 yards. He had two catches for 25 yards before the play and only one catch for 10 yards during the remainder of the game. Taylor was, however, able to play the second half and was used as a blocker on several Carlisle and Trey Higgins running plays.

—Cullman finished with only one first down, which came when Bearcats quarterback Max Dueland ran a designed keeper for 2 yards on a second-and-one play with 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter. For the night, the Oxford defense held Cullman to only 20 yards of total offense.

—Higgins (2-yarder) and Shannon Morris (3-yarder) had Oxford’s other two rushing touchdowns on the night with both coming during the 28-point second half for the Yellow Jackets.

Who said

—Carlisle on Oxford’s offense: “Well, in our offense, it’s not just me and Trey; we have great linemen and great receivers, so we just want to have the option of spreading the ball around. If they stop the receivers, we can give the ball to me; if they stop me, we can give it to the receivers.”

—Etheredge on the night: “We started off slow and that had something to do with Cullman; they have a good football team and did a great job of slowing us down. We made some plays, then they’d make a big play and get a stop. In the second half, we got our running game established, and I think that helped us out a lot and allowed us to do some more things offensively.”

—Etheredge on leading Oxford to the quarterfinals in his first season: “It’s just these kids and the coaching staff. I have great kids. In my 14 years as a coach, this is my 11th year I’ve been able to be in the quarterfinals, and it feels great.”

Next up

—Oxford (10-1) will host Class 6A, Region 6 foe Clay-Chalkville (9-2) next week at Lamar Field. The Cougars handed the Yellow Jackets their lone loss on the season and have ended Oxford’s season in back-to-back years.