PREP FOOTBALL: Cold Springs loses thriller on the road to Appalachian, 35-34

Nick Griffin for The Cullman Tribune

Houston McCarn (48) celebrates with the Eagles’ defense after sacking Appalachian quarterback Chase Payne (15). (Nick Griffin for The Cullman Tribune)

ONEONTA – It was a wet, physical, long showdown between the Appalachian Eagles (Class 1A, Region 5) and the traveling Cold Springs Eagles (Class 2A, Region 5) Friday night, and the Eagles in white came up just short, 35-34. Momentum-shifting plays were coming from both sides for four quarters and in the end, Appalachian managed to pick up its first win of the season with the upset over the Eagles.

Appalachian struck first with a 50-yard touchdown run on its first possession of the night to go up 6-0. Cold Springs forced a punt on Appalachian’s next series and the short kick was picked up on the bounce by sophomore Roberto Ayala who ran it all the way down to the 25-yard line. Sophomore running back Ayden Alexander capitalized on the big return two plays later when he ran one in from 15-yards out to put Cold Springs up 7-6.

The Eagles stretched their lead to 14-6 on their next possession thanks to a 24-yard touchdown sprint from Ayala, and Alexander took another one to the end zone from 47-yards out on Cold Springs’ next series to make it 21-6 early in the second quarter. Alexander finished with 80 yards and two touchdowns on five carries in the first half but was unable to play in the second half due to an ankle injury.

Appalachian drove deep into Cold Springs territory, but with just over two minutes remaining in the half, was picked off at the goal line by senior linebacker Francisco Ayala. A couple plays later, the Cold Springs Eagles fumbled the ball back to Appalachian with just over a minute to go in the half and Appalachian was able to capitalize with a 33-yard touchdown on a trick pass from the running back to cut the lead to 21-14 headed into the break.

A Cold Springs interception midway through the third quarter set Appalachian up with another chance to score and Appalachian did just that with a 34-yard touchdown run down the sideline that tied the game at 21. Cold Springs answered with a 3-yard touchdown run from Francisco Ayala late in the third quarter to re-take the lead 28-21, but that score didn’t hold for long. Appalachian ran back the ensuing kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown and tied the game back up at 28.

Cold Springs’ offense was having some trouble moving the ball late in the game, but the defense was able to pick them up with an interception returned for a touchdown by junior defensive back Jordan Lacey. The pick-six made it 34-28 Cold Springs after a missed extra point. The Eagles from Appalachian had one more drive in them, and with under three minutes to play, they took a 35-34 lead on a 14-yard touchdown run up the middle.

The Cold Springs offense had one last shot at the end zone with one second left on the clock, but the pass was intercepted in the end zone and the Eagles of Appalachian handed Cold Springs its second loss of the season.

Cold Springs, now 4-2, will have a chance to regroup and rest up this week after a draining game and will be back on the field Oct.12 when the Eagles host Winston County (Class 2A, Region 5).

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