PREP FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS: Cullman’s postseason run ends with 35-0 loss to Oxford

Cullman’s Jaylen Hughey (6) and Alex Sheppard (28) combine for a sack during the Bearcats’ 35-0 loss to Oxford Friday night. (Nick Griffin for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – For the first time in 10 years, the Bearcats were playing a second-round playoff game in front of their home crowd but unfortunately for Cullman fans, the Oxford Yellow Jackets left Oliver Woodard Stadium with a 35-0 win. The ‘Cats were forced to punt 10 times in the loss and were outgained by the Yellow Jackets 497 to 20 in terms of offensive yardage.

After both teams traded punts on their opening possessions, Oxford took an early lead on its second possession of the night. A methodical drive was capped off by a 39-yard touchdown run down the home sideline that made it 7-0 with just over three minutes to play in the first quarter.

Cullman’s defense stepped up in the second quarter and forced a turnover on downs on the Yellow Jackets’ next possession, and a beautiful punt from Tanner Heatherly pinned them down at the 1-yard line, but the ‘Cats couldn’t get anything going offensively. Cullman kept Oxford off the board for the rest of the half and went into the locker room trailing 7-0. The Bearcats were unable to gain a first down in the opening half.

The Yellow Jackets wasted no time stretching their lead after halftime. Oxford started the third quarter with a scoring drive capped off by a 5-yard touchdown run that made it a 14-0 game with 9:30 to play in the third. Dustin Speake intercepted a pass to end the next Yellow Jacket drive early, but Oxford was able to find the end zone again late in the third on a quarterback keeper from 2 yards out that extended the lead to 21-0 going into the fourth quarter.

The Yellow Jackets tacked on two more touchdowns to pull away in the final frame, one coming on a 9-yard touchdown run early in the period and the other 3-yard touchdown midway through the fourth. After taking a knee on the final few snaps, Oxford secured its spot in round three with a 35-0 win.

Cullman wraps up its first season under Head Coach Oscar Glasscock with a 6-6 record and the first Class 6A playoff win in school history. The Bearcats will lose several impact players to graduation in May, but with most of the roster returning next fall, the future looks bright for Cullman.

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Nick Griffin