PELL CITY — A fast start was all Oxford needed Friday night.
In front of a packed house in the region opener for both Oxford and Pell City, the visiting Yellow Jackets rolled up 305 yards on offense in the first half and took a 41-7 lead to the halftime locker room.
That score held in the second half, and Oxford boarded the bus with its first region victory of 2019.
“I think our guys played a great first half,” Oxford head coach Keith Etheredge said. “We just wanted to maintain, get out healthy in the second half.”
Etheredge was making his first return to Pell City since serving as head coach of the Panthers in 2016-17.
The Yellow Jackets (3-0, 1-0 in Class 6A, Region 6) scored touchdowns on all five of their offensive possessions in the first half. Junior quarterback Trey Higgins was the key to the attack, opening the game with a 60-yard completion to Roc Taylor and ultimately accounting for four of those five TDs.
Higgins finished with 247 total yards, 181 of those through the air. Taylor caught four passes for 113 yards and a score.
Oxford’s leading rusher was senior Jonovan Carlisle, who finished with 95 yards and a 13-yard touchdown that made the score 21-0 in favor of the visitors before the first quarter even ended.
Pell City (1-2, 0-1) was led by senior quarterback Mitchell Gossett’s 47 yards through the air. The Panthers’ lone touchdown came from senior Keton Seals, who scored from 2 yards out on the first play of the second quarter.
The Panthers did not earn a first down in the second half.
“(Oxford) jumped on us early,” Pell City head coach Wayne Lee said. “Once a team that’s that talented gets ahead of you like that, there’s no way you can come back.”
What to know
—Oxford has outscored its opponents 47-0 in the first quarter this year in three games. Pell City had minus-9 yards rushing in the first half and for the third straight week the Jackets opponent had minus yards rushing in the first half.
—The Yellow Jackets had 310 total yards in the first half with 162 yards coming through the air and 148 on the ground. Higgins, who exited midway through the third quarter, is now 32-of-49 for 489 yards and five touchdowns on the season. Higgins also rushed for 66 yards on 11 carries.
—Oxford’s Trequan Fegans converted a score for the Yellow Jacket defense with a 25-yard interception return that turned out to be the game’s final score.
—Etheredge on the game: “I got a lot of respect for ... Pell City. I love these people here. It’s great to come on the road and get a win, but you root for those kids, because all those kids played for me.”
—Pell City head coach Wayne Lee on the game: “We didn’t tackle well today, at all. That’s a big weakness right there. It’s kind of been (that way) for three games, and we’ve got to get it fixed moving forward. Second thing, our blocking and execution … we’ve got to execute better on offense as well.”
—Oxford returns home to face Charles Henderson for homecoming. Pell City will stay in region play, traveling to Gardendale