PREP FOOTBALL: Hartselle pulls away to defeat Cullman 35-14

Cullman QB Ryan Skinner dives into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown during the Bearcats’ 35-14 loss to Hartselle Friday night. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman Bearcats were back home under the lights at Oliver Woodard Stadium to host another big rival Friday night. The first half between the ‘Cats and the Tiger was neck and neck, but Hartselle was able to take advantage of turnovers and big plays to pull away in the second half and take the region win over Cullman 35-14.

Hartselle took the game’s opening kickoff and after driving down the field and getting into scoring range, a fumble out of the back of the endzone gave possession to the Bearcats on the 20-yard line. Cullman took advantage of the turnover, putting together a methodical drive of its own and capping off a scoring drive with a 9-yard touchdown run by Noah Kee. The extra point from Nate Zillis gave the Bearcats an early 7-0 lead. The Tigers answered quickly, tying the game at 7 early in the second quarter with a 12-yard touchdown pass.

However, Cullman was able to respond and capped off another long scoring drive with a 1-yard QB sneak by Ryan Skinner that made it a 14-7 game with just over seven minutes to play in the first half. Hartselle’s offense was able to answer once again, scoring on an 8-yard run to tie the game back up at 14 with just over three minutes remaining in the second quarter. The Bearcats were forced to punt the ball back to the Tigers with 1:33 on the clock and a 48-yard touchdown pass gave Hartselle a 21-14 advantage going into the halftime break.

Cullman was well on its way to finishing another long, time-consuming drive with a touchdown, but a fumble gave the ball back to the Tigers inside their own 10-yard line midway through the third quarter. The black and gold defense forced Hartselle to punt the ball away but the ‘Cats’ offense turned the ball over on downs with just over eight minutes left in the game and the Tigers were able to add to their lead. Hartselle fumbled the ball going into the endzone but was able to recover its own fumble in the endzone to put another touchdown on the board and pull ahead 28-14 with less than four minutes remaining in the game. After recovering their own onside kick, the Tigers punched in another rushing touchdown from 10 yards out to wrap up a 35-14 road win over the Bearcats.

Jake Dueland led Cullman with 127 yards on 18 carries. Tyler Owens added 59 yards on 16 carries and Drew Conway posted 31 yards on seven carries. Skinner and Kee each scored touchdowns for Cullman in the loss.

The Bearcats fall to 1-2 on the season with the loss and will be back on the road next week to take on Buckhorn.

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