Oxford surges past Spanish Fort for 6A state title


AUBURN – The Oxford Yellow Jackets won their first state championship in 26 years in a cliffhanging Super 7 Class 6A State Championship Game Friday night, edging Spanish Fort 14-13 thanks to a touchdown and extra point with just 23 seconds remaining in the contest at Jordan-Hare Stadium.  The 6A finals closed out the 2019 Super 7 State Championships.
     The Toros (9-5) had taken a 13-7 lead earlier in the final period after a wild blocked field goal return followed by a fourth-and-inches fumble into the end zone for a score with 6:21 to play.
     Oxford, coached by first-year head coach Keith Etheredge, scored the winning touchdown almost six minutes later when sophomore Trequon Fegans scampered 3 yards around right end, crashing through two Spanish Fort would-be tacklers at the goal-line for the tying score, and senior Andrew Warhurst kicked the game-deciding extra point. The TD was the fourth play of a 43-yard drive that started with 1:34 remaining in the game.
      Yellow Jackets senior X’Zavian Britt, a starting wide receiver who was forced into action as the backup quarterback when starter Trey Higgins was injured in the third quarter, broke loose for a 24-yard scamper to the 15 and ran 8 more yards to the Toros’ 7 to set winning score. A Britt-to-Roc Taylor lob pass was incomplete in the end zone, but Spanish Fort was flagged for interference gave Oxford the ball at the 3 to set up Fegans’ dramatic score. Britt was named the Class 6A state championship game MVP.
   Spanish Fort’s go-ahead score was also remarkable. Linebacker Logan Ganey blocked Warhurst’s 43-yard field goal try and Micah Gaffney sprinted down the left sideline for 63 yards before he was knocked out of bounds at the 2 by Oxford’s Miguel Mitchell.
    Toros quarterback Kris Abrams-Draine lost a yard on second-and-goal, but appeared to dive into the end zone from the 3 on third down. A replay challenge overturned the play, showing the quarterback’s knee was down inside the 1. On fourth down, Abrams-Draine tried the left side of the pile again, but the ball popped loose and into the end zone where wide receiver Travis McGowan pounced on it for the score. Tanner Keesee’s PAT went wide right.
     The Yellow Jackets’ ensuing 58-yard drive ended at the Spanish Fort 13 when the spot on a fourth-and-inches play was challenged. The ball was re-spotted and a re-measurement showed it inches short with 2:42 remaining.
    Oxford’s defense rose to the challenge, however, with leading tackler Tavares Elston (seven solo stops and one assist) and Chanceton Holifield dropping Spanish Fort’s Johnny Morris for a 6-yard loss to the Toros’ 8-yard-line on first down. Two plays netted just 3 yards and the Toros punted on fourth-and-14, setting up the dramatic finish.
    The Toros, coached by Ben Blackmon, had been hoping to become the first No. 4 seed to win a state football championship. Spanish Fort was 4-0 in previous runs to the Super 7 finals, winning in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015. Oxford added its first blue championship trophy since 1993 to go along with back-to-back titles in 1988 and ’89. While it was Oxford’s fourth state crown overall, it was the fifth for Etheredge, who guided Leeds to four state titles during his tenure with the Green Wave.
     Oxford got the only points in the hard-fought first half on a 13-yard run by Jonovan Carlisle with 2:05 left in the second period. The Yellow Jackets’ scoring drive was only 36 yards following a 24-yard Toros’ punt. Warhurst kicked the point-after.
    Spanish Fort tied the score with a 12-play, 62-yard march in the third period. A wide-open Morris caught a 15-yard pass from Abrams-Draine. Carlisle led the winners with 93 yards rushing on 18 attempts and Higgins had 70 on 17 before suffering an injury in the third period. Taylor caught four passes for 86 yards while Britt threw for 66 yards on 2-of-4 passing and caught two throws for 16.
    Spanish Fort’s Morris had 100 yards on the ground on 18 attempts and Abrams-Draine ran for 83 on 18. Abrams-Draine was also the Toros’ leading receiver catching one of two completed passes for 25 yards. Carlos Johnson led the Spanish Fort defense with nine tackles and one assist.

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