"There was a lot of football in the last five minutes, I'll tell you what. It was a great, classic football game," says Oxford head coach John Grass. "I don't know how many times the lead changed in the last five minutes, but it changed a bunch."
On the other hand, it was a grim finish to the night for Carrollton High and Auburn commitment Jonathan Jones. The Trojans blew leads of 17-14 and 21-17 late in the game, and Jones suffered a likely concussion in the final minutes.
"They think I've got a concussion," Jones explains. "I've got to go to a specialist on Monday. It happened after our last score after we took the lead for the last time (at 24-21). I sort of got blind-sided on the kickoff."
Jones was evaluated Friday night and Saturday. He didn't make the trip back to Georgia with his teammates and head coach Rayvan Teague said after the game that Jones was "dazed and confused." Jones said he is suffering from minor headaches and is likely to miss next Saturday's game against Vanguard.
Jones is shown in pregame warm-ups. He had a 22-yard rushing score in the second quarter to give Carrollton a 14-7 halftime lead.
It was one of the strangest and action-packed finishes to any football game that you'll see. A running into the kicker penalty after a missed Carrollton field goal attempt allowed them a second chance at breaking a 14-14 tie with just over six minutes remaining. Tyler Newsome made good from 33 yards and the Trojans appeared to be in control after forcing an Oxford punt.
However, Oxford forced a three-and-out and Dominique Williams came up huge for the Yellow Jackets in the next couple series. He blocked the Carrollton punt and returned it to the one-yard line. Oxford took a 21-17 lead on the next play.
Carrollton returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, but was called for holding. That didn't make much difference as D.J. Johnson scored from 23-yards out moments later for a 24-21 Carrollton advantage.
"They've got a great offense," Grass says of Johnson and Carrollton's rushing attack. "They do a good job with what they do. They've got a lot of speed. We missed a lot of tackles, but we made a lot too. Our guys played great in the trenches all night long. We were worried about #3 (Johnson), the big fullback, and if were able to tackle him. He made some plays, but we tackled him pretty good all day."
With Oxford in the hurry up, quarterback Jackson Stephens came through on several completions and Williams was clutch again, this time with a 29-yard receiving touchdown with 58 seconds remaining.
"We had been trying to work on some crossing routes," Grass explains, "and work on their safeties a little bit. We ran a corner route and a little in-route and we caught them underneath, and he (Williams) split them."
Five-star Oxford linebacker, who was quiet for most of the second half, then helped seal the deal for the Yellow Jackets. He hit QB Dallas Dickey's arm as he was throwing, which caused the ball to flutter in to the air resulting in an interception and defensive score for Damian Cosper.
"I hit the quarterback," Alexander explains. "Me and our other outside linebacker, we went in there on a blitz together. We got him at the same time, and another linebacker ran it in for a touchdown.
"I wasn't the game-winner," Alexander adds. "The whole team won. We all just worked hard. We just came out here and balled."
Carrollton beat Oxford 43-21 last season, but Alexander says the difference this year was preparation.
"They got the better of us last year, that's why we had to get revenge this year," he says. "It was different because we learned how to defend it. Last year it was our first time doing the Wing-T thing. We didn't know how to play it right. This year we learned it and got it down pat, and we went out and just played."
For Carrollton, the AAA runner-ups, mistakes proved to be costly.
"I told them before the game that basically there were four things that we had to do to win," Coach Teague says. "First we had to be disciplined. Second we had to execute. Third we had to play fast. Fourth we had to play physical. We probably did three out of those four. The problem was the discipline side.
"We committed too many mistakes," Teague continues. "Those two times on fourth down we jumped off-sides and gave them a first down. Twice we stopped our drive—once with a false start and once with a delay of game penalty. We had a personal foul that took away a first down on that drive before the 1:58. We made too many mental errors there at the end."
For Alexander and Oxford, they don't have much time to celebrate as region action begins next week against rival Gadsden City.
"This win means a lot," Alexander says. "They were the No. 1 or No. 2 team in Georgia. Everybody was doubting us and saying we were going to lose, and they were calling us weak and everything. We went out there and showed them what we are about."