STEVENSON, Ala. — Top-ranked Oneonta gave North Jackson a brief ray of hope early. Very brief.
North Jackson grabbed an early lead, but it was short-lived as Oneonta answered with two touchdowns in less than two minutes. That was part of the Redskins' 27 unanswered points in the first half and led to a 48-21 victory over the Chiefs in the second round of Alabama's Class 4A playoffs.
"When you have opportunities to make plays against a team like that early, you better make them," Chiefs coach Shawn Peek said. "We got one early but then had several more that we didn't cash in on, and that killed us.
"That's a real good ball team we played, and we just didn't give ourselves enough chance to stay with them."
Oneonta (12-0), last year's state runner-up, came in having beaten its last nine opponents an average of 54-9. It outgained North Jackson 500-208 in total yards.
The Redskins built a 27-point halftime lead despite losing fumbles on their first two possessions and throwing an interception in the end zone just before halftime.
Johnny Padgett recovered a Redskins fumble on the first play from scrimmage, but North Jackson's offense turned the ball over on downs. Three plays later, Padgett recovered another fumble, returning this one 45 yards for a touchdown and the quick lead for the Chiefs.
But Oneonta responded with a four-play, 52-yard drive capped by Tyler Smith's 7-yard scoring run. Then after the Chiefs fumbled the kickoff, the Redskins needed just three plays to cover 30 yards and Smith scored on a 17-yard run.
North Jackson countered by driving to the Oneonta 1 but lost a fumble on fourth down, and the Redskins scored on a 69-yard screen pass from Cody O'toole to Smith four plays later.
O'toole threw for 258 of his 291 yards in the first half, including two touchdowns. He also caught a TD pass from Smith on a reverse pass late in the second quarter.
"It's a disappointing way to end the season, but our kids fought their guts out," Peek said. "You can't ask for better effort from them."
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 20 years, starting at the News-Free Press as a 19-year-old reporter. He has been with the Times Free Press since its inception and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation ...