Big plays hurt Fort Payne in loss at Oxford

Fort Payne’s Hayden Presley (77) and Devin Wells (47) tackle Oxford’s Jaydon Thomas during the first half Friday night.

By keying on big plays, the Oxford Yellow Jackets defeated the Fort Payne Wildcats 41-13, winning the Class 6A, Region 7 championship at Oxford High School on Friday night.

Fort Payne (5-4, 4-2 6A, Region 7) finished as the region’s No. 3 seed and will travel for the first round of the AHSAA state playoffs. With a 27-0 win against Springville, Arab locked up the region’s second seed.

Oxford (6-3, 5-1) raced to a 28-0 halftime lead and kept its offense roaring into the second half, unleashing a 60-yard scoring run on its first snap from scrimmage to begin the third quarter.

Both teams traded turnovers later in the quarter, before Oxford’s Jaydon Thomas capped another drive with a 7-yard scoring rumble up the middle at the start of the fourth, making it 41-0.

Fort Payne reached the end zone with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Jake Barnes to Sawyer Burt with 8:41 remaining in regulation. The scoring connection came on a fourth-and-goal play.

The Wildcats’ offensive second-team entered and produced a second score. After consecutive first-down plays, Dax Varnadore rolled to the right for a 20-yard touchdown toss to Brannon Oliver with 1:39 to play.

After punting away its first possession, Oxford scored on three straight offensive drives in the first half.

The Yellow Jackets recovered a sack fumble on Fort Payne’s opening drive, collecting the ball in the end zone for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

When the Wildcats were forced to punt midway through the first quarter, Oxford’s Damious Wilson broke free in the backfield and used blocks to sprint from midfield and ahead of Fort Payne’s defensive backs en route to a score.

Samuel Robertson threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to cap Oxford’s second straight scoring drive with 7:47 remaining in the first half, pushing the lead to 21-0.

After the Wildcats were penalized after reaching Oxford’s 25-yard line, Alex McPherson attempted a 61-yard field goal that fell short and to the right.

The Yellow Jackets responded quickly with a 61-yard touchdown with 53 seconds left in the half, making it 28-0.

Fort Payne wraps up the regular season at Wildcat Stadium next Friday, hosting 4A North Jackson at 7 p.m.

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