Prep Football Bearcats scratch back to win in final moments, 20-16, over Ft. Payne | CullmanSense

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Bearcats scratch back to win in final moments, 20-16, over Ft. Payne

CULLMAN – In a game that looked to be all but over, the Cullman Bearcats dug deep on both offense and defense to come from behind to defeat Ft. Payne, 20-16, in the final minute of play when Jayden Sullins took a 44-yard screen pass from Fletcher Jennings for the game-winning score, giving Bearcat head coach Mark Britton his 150th career win.

It wasn’t all rosy for the Bearcats as Ft. Payne was the first to get out and score on its first possession. The Wildcat defense pressured Cullman into three quick three-and-outs, while Ft. Payne nailed a field goal and a quick touchdown to put them ahead 10-0. It was Cullman’s Ezra Burks who put Cullman on the board late in the first quarter to give some life to the Bearcats, making it a one-possession game.

As the second quarter started both teams looked tired. Cullman, though, had a little left in the tank and began to prove it on defense, shutting down Ft. Payne, but it didn’t last long, as the Wildcats nailed another long field goal, putting them ahead 17-7.

Penalties allowed the Wildcats to move easily down the field as they attempted to set up a scoring drive to end the half.

Ft. Payne went deep, and yet another penalty on the Bearcats for pass interference stopped the clock and brought the Wildcats to Cullman’s 23-yard line. The Bearcat’s clamped down and forced Ft. Payne to take the field goal, putting the Bearcats behind 13-7 at the end of the first half.

Jennings went deep to Jayden Sullins for the game-tying touchdown on first play of the fourth quarter. The PAT gave Cullman its first lead of the night, 14-13, with 11:52 left in the game. Ft. Payne could not be stopped, as the Wildcats methodically worked their way down the field before settling on a field goal to put the Bearcats behind 16-14 with 8:13 left in the game.

Both teams exchanged series before Cullman was able to push the Wildcats far enough back where a field goal was out of the question. Cullman’s defense and errors on Ft. Payne backed the Wildcats into a first-and-27. The Bearcats tightened up and quickly took down any effort by Ft. Payne, forcing an incomplete pass and a long third-down attempt. The Wildcats tried to convert on the third-down, but came up short of a first down and too far out for a field goal. Cullman took over at its 20-yard line.

Burks ran up the gut for a quick 5 yards but the clock kept running. Jennings was flushed from pocket and sacked at Cullman’s 10-yard line, setting up a long third-down attempt. A roughing the passer call rejuvenated Cullman, moving the ‘Cats to their 36-yard line with 2:32 left in the game.

Sullins took the ball up the center, but only netted a couple of yards. Then the pass from Jennings to Reese Harbison to Ft. Payne’s 30-yard line was knocked down, but not before the refs threw a flag for pass interference, giving Cullman yet another chance to take over the game.

Sullins, on a 44-yard screen pass from Jennings, gave Cullman a 20-16 lead with 1:16 left in the contest. Cullman could not complete the 2-point conversion.

Cullman’s defense got aggressive, and Ft. Payne was unable to gain any ground on the Wildcats’ final possession, giving the Bearcats a hard-fought win, 20-16.

Cullman will take on Fayette County on Friday, Sept. 29.

Photos – Aerial Envision

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