A kicker’s game as Pell City tops Cullman 19-16 in double OT


PELL CITY – It was a slow-moving game for both teams as Pell City’s Sergio Alvarez and the Bearcats’ Miguel Tizapa traded kicks, both nailing 3-of-4 field goals, with the last miss ending the game at 19-16 in favor of the Panthers.

The Bearcat defense stood strong, not allowing the Panthers to advance the ball much on the team’s first couple possessions. Alvarez attempted a 46-yard field goal, but the ball hit the goal post, denying Pell City the first points of the game.

Just a couple possessions later the Bearcats struck; a huge hit on Carson Freeman on a third-and-17 play dislodged the ball, but a penalty on Pell City for targeting pulled the Bearcats up to Panthers’ 33 and gave them a fresh set of downs. Tizapa took the field shortly after to hit a 42-yard field goal, giving the Bearcats a 3-0 lead.

However, the following series saw Pell City march down the field to set up the Panthers’ Alvarez for a shot at redemption in the form of a 35-yard field goal, which tied the game at 3-3 halfway through the second quarter.

Cullman’s next series saw a variety of plays, one in which Freeman hauled in a long-distance pass from Fletcher Jennings to Cullman’s 42-yard line, but an offensive pass interference call dragged the Bearcats back to the 1-yard line. Just a couple plays later the Bearcats were forced to punt, setting Pell City up at Cullman’s 37 with just less than a minute to go in the half.

Pell City forced the pace as QB Quinton Burkhalter gained a first down at Cullman’s 24-yard line. There was a forced throw by Burkhalter, but Bearcat defender Dylan Wallace nabbed the ball to shut down any chance for the Panthers to add points on the board with 25 seconds remaining. Cullman attempted a couple quick plays, but the teams went into the locker room deadlocked at 3-all.

Pell City got to work out of the locker room, marching down the field until the defensive front of Cullman stepped up, forcing yet another short field goal attempt. The Panthers’ Alvarez hit it to give Pell City a 6-3 lead.

The Bearcats tried some trickery on their next series, but it proved costly as the team turned the ball over on an underthrown pass, which was picked off.

Pell City didn’t fare so well on its next possession; Cullman’s Jayden Sullins broke through several tackles as he spun his way inside the red zone to give Cullman a chance to regain the lead as time expired in the third quarter. A 28-yard Tizapa field goal knotted the score at 6-all to start the fourth quarter.

Pell City wouldn’t go away, taking advantage of field position to set up an Alvarez 28-yard field goal to retake the lead at 9-6 with 5:46 left in the game.

Following an injury to Cullman’s running back Ezra Burks and a facemask from the Panthers, Tizapa was brought in to tie the game on his third field goal attempt of the night, this time a short 20-yarder. Pell City called a timeout as Tizapa struck the ball, slicing it wide right, but the timeout gave the Bearcats an another attempt. For the game-tying FG Tizapa, nailed the second attempt,t but yet another timeout was called as he struck the ball, splitting the uprights. The third attempt was good as time expired to force overtime, with the teams tied 9-9. A game-saving catch by Hayden Henderson allowed Tizapa to get off the kick as the clocked ticked down to zero.

Cullman took first possession in overtime, starting its drive at the Panthers’ 10-yard line. Sullins broke to the right side, gaining a few yards. On the second snap of overtime, Sullins took a short reception from Jennings and spun his way into the end zone to give Cullman a 15-9 lead. The PAT was good, extending Cullman’s lead to 16-9, putting all the pressure on Pell City.

The Panthers’ began their attempt with a broken offensive line as the Bearcats rushed the line. Pell City attempted a deep pass, but the Bearcats denied them, setting up a third-down play from the Cullman 11-yard line. The Panthers hit the deep pass in the corner of the end zone to bring the score within 1-point. The PAT was good and tied the game 16-16.

Dale Justice stepped up to snuff the first-down run by Pell City on the Panthers’ second possession of overtime. Multiple Bearcats blitzed the center, not allowing the Panthers to advance the ball; Kasey Murfree and Josh Skinner stopped Pell City on third-and-goal from Cullman’s 11-yard line. Alvarez hooked it through to bring Pell City to a 19-16 lead.

Jennings threw to Sullins, but a dropped pass brought up second-and-goal from the 8-yard line. Sullins pushed forward on the drive to gain 2 yards. On a short third down, Jennings overthrew Sullins, setting up Tizapa for a chip shot field goal, but he missed it wide right.

Coach Mark Britton said after the game, “This might not be the last game for me. We just have to see,” as he left the field.

Cullman is now 4-3 and will have the upcoming week off.

Copyright 2017 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Image courtesy of Cullman High School on Twitter.