CULLMAN, Ala. – Storms pushed this week’s showdown between the Jasper Vikings and Cullman Bearcats back to Saturday but that didn’t seem to bother the ‘Cats one bit. The latest edition of this tight rivalry kicked off at Oliver Woodard Stadium at 11 a.m. Saturday and while keeping the Vikings off the scoreboard, Cullman found the end zone once in the first, once in the second and once more in the third quarter to secure a 21-0 win in its home opener and improve to 2-0 on the season.
“I think this is a game they’re always going to remember. They’re going to talk about that time we payed at 11:00 in the morning in Saturday and it was blazing hot and all that kind of stuff so to be able to come out and win is a great thing,” Bearcats Head Coach Oscar Glasscock said. “You’re expecting to play Friday and then you’ve got to go home and get in a new routine and change your plans so I couldn’t be more proud of the kids.”
Cullman struck first by capping off a methodical opening drive with a 5-yard touchdown run by Noah Kee. A 47-yard completion from Max Dueland to Jeb Bartle got the ‘Cats deep into Jasper territory and set up the score. The extra point from Brody Adams split the uprights and the black and gold took a 7-0 just three minutes into the opening period. Neither team was able to get on the board for the rest of the quarter and the second quarter began with Cullman in front 7-0.
The Bearcats were forced to punt on their first possession of the second but later in the period with just under six minutes to play in the half Dueland found Jamar Kay running alone deep down the middle of the field and Kay sprinted beneath the pass and stretched out to make the catch as he crossed the goal line. Adams’ extra point put the ‘Cats on top 14-0 midway through the second quarter. Cullman forced Jasper to turn the ball over on downs just before the break and the Bearcats went into the locker room with a 14-0 advantage over the Vikings.
Cullman was almost perfectly balanced on offense in the first half, running for 106 yards and passing for 103 while holding Jasper to just 64 yards of total offense on the other end.
The ‘Cats turned the ball over on downs on their first possession of the second half, but the defense didn’t let Jasper take advantage. The Vikings missed a 24-yard field goal early in the third quarter to keep the score locked at 14-0 and on the ensuing possession, the Bearcats began to put it away. Jaylen Hughey broke through the middle of the Jasper defense for 22 yards and ran through a man on his way down to the 4-yard line. One play later, Hughey finished it off and scored from 4 yards out to add to the lead. The extra point made it a 21-0 game with just under six minutes to play in the third. Cullman forced another Vikings punt on their next possession and the ‘Cats went into the final frame leading by three touchdowns.
Neither team was able to find the end zone in the fourth quarter but outside of a fumble in their own territory, the Bearcats were able to stay in control of the game and run the clock out to seal an impressive, 21-0 win in front of their home crowd.
Jake Dueland had a huge day on the ground for Cullman, collecting 140 yards on 12 carries. Hughey carried it seven times for 33 yards and a touchdown and Kee posted 26 yards and a score on 10 carries. Max Dueland added 40 yards on the ground and hit four of his nine passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. Jasper was forced to punt or turned the ball over on downs on all of its possessions. The Vikings were held to just 200 yards of total offense in the loss.
Glasscock was excited to see his team come together and show a lot of focus and intensity Saturday morning after a week full of distractions.
“We struggled early in the week. We started school this week and these kids haven’t really done school since March. We’ve had them for a few hours a day for football but man it was tough the first part of this week,” Glasscock said. “We thought we were going to play Friday and we got pushed back but those guys came in this morning and they were bright-eyed and ready to play.”
The rivalry between Cullman and Jasper has been as close as any other in the state. With the win Saturday, the Bearcats have tied the all-time series with the Vikings 35-35-2. Glasscock credits his veteran group of players who lead the way during unusual circumstances this week and on top of getting the win, he was happy to see a successful game day on campus and senior recognitions before kickoff.
“Jasper does a heck of a job over there. They’re physical, fast and well-coached and we’re just super fortunate. I think this ties the series with them historically. This has been a great rivalry and they got us by a few last year. We’ve got a veteran group and that showed today because I thought they were really mature as far as how they handled changing conditions and I’m appreciative of the crowd,” Glasscock said. “We had a great crowd today I thought, and it made it a lot of fun. I’m appreciative of our administration and everybody that helped put this thing together. It’s a big undertaking to get a game together when you have to get your gate workers all lined up and stuff like that so I was really happy to see the crowd and to get a chance to recognize the seniors.”
The ‘Cats will have a quicker turnaround to prepare for next week’s road trip to face another historic rival, the Hartselle Tigers. Glasscock and his staff will be keeping a close eye on how their players recover this week as they prepare for another rivalry game and the region opener.
“Playing on Saturday, we’re going to have less of a window to recover so we’ll have to be really smart with how we play in practice and help these guys recover,” Glasscock said. “We got a few guys banged up today and we’ll get a few guys back next week fortunately but we’re going to have to be smart this week. We’re going to enjoy this win and come back on Monday and figure it out but I’m just so happy for this group of seniors and the leadership that they showed. That maturity and toughness paid off today for sure.”
Cullman will travel to Hartselle to face the Tigers next Friday, Sept. 4.
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