FORT PAYNE — The Fort Payne Wildcats kept it close with the defending Class 6A state champs for a half, but Oxford’s explosive offense ignited in the second half.

Darrell Prater and J.D. Blalock each ran for a touchdown in Fort Payne’s 49-14 loss to the Yellow Jackets in the Class 6A, Region 7 championship game at Wildcat Stadium on Friday night.

The Wildcats (7-2, 5-1) finished as region runners-up and a No. 2 seed in the postseason. They will host a first-round state playoff game.

Oxford claimed the region championship and the No. 1 seed from Region 7, as quarterback Trey Higgins ran for three touchdowns and passed for two more.

Higgins threw a touchdown pass and ran for another to help the Yellow Jackets take a 14-7 halftime lead.

Prater punched in a 1-yard scoring run on fourth-and-goal to give the Wildcats the game’s first points with 4 minutes remaining in the opening quarter.

Oxford responded with a tying score 2 minutes later.

Higgins scrambled out of the pocket and sped along the right side for a 37-yard touchdown.

Both teams had trouble maintaining possession across a 2-minute stretch of the second quarter.

The Yellow Jackets recovered a Fort Payne fumble at Oxford’s 36-yard line, before a pass bounced off an intended receiver and into the hands of Fort Payne’s Jayden Dubose.

The bizarre sequence continued when a Fort Payne pass was batted into the air and intercepted at the 8:24 mark.

Oxford turned the pick into points when Higgins tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass for the go-ahead score with 4:41 left in the half.

Roc Taylor raced 35 yards to extend the Yellow Jackets’ advantage to 21-7 early in the third, before Fort Payne answered with a 1-yard scoring dive by Blalock on fourth-and-1 with 5:32 to play in the quarter.

Higgins capped Oxford’s ensuing drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 28-14 with 2:25 left in the third.

The Yellow Jackets added three more scores in the fourth, including one from a blocked field goal attempt returned for a touchdown.

The Wildcats visit North Jackson for their regular-season finale Friday.

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