PREP FOOTBALL: Cullman edges Decatur at home 17-14

Cullman’s Jamar Kay celebrates after securing the game-winning interception for the Bearcats in their 17-14 win over Decatur Friday night. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – After hammering Mars Hill on their home field last week, the Bearcats were back in Oliver Woodard Stadium Friday night for a regional matchup against the Decatur Red Raiders. Cullman jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, but the Decatur battled back to make things interesting. After scoring a late defensive touchdown and recovering an onside kick, it took an interception by Jamar Kay on the game’s final play to secure a 17-14 win for the Bearcats.

Cullman took advantage of a couple of early turnovers to take the lead, including an interception by Dylan Sessions. A 64-yard touchdown run from Kay put the ‘Cats in front 7-0 and not long after that, Ryan Skinner broke free for a 37-yard touchdown run to stretch the lead to 14-0 midway through the opening quarter. However, the Red Raiders were able to put a drive together late in the first quarter and capped it off a with a short touchdown pass on the first play of the second to make it a 14-7 game.

Both teams had trouble moving the ball for most of the second quarter until Decatur began to pick up yards late in the period and drove into Bearcat territory with just under a minute remaining in the half. That’s when Kay picked off his first pass of the night near the home sideline and Cullman took over possession with a minute to play in the opening half. The ‘Cats went into the locker room with a 14-7 lead over the Red Raiders at the break.

Points were hard to come by again in the third quarter. Both defenses had found their footing and were taking control of the game, but the Bearcats were able to drive deep into Decatur territory in the final minute of the third. However, they were unable to move the chains on third down and Nate Zills knocked a 30-yard field goal through the uprights to give Cullman a 17-7 advantage with 30 seconds to play in the quarter.

The ‘Cats were in control for most of the final frame and after forcing the Red Raiders to turn the ball over on downs with less than three minutes on the clock, the game appeared to be over. That’s when a Decatur defended flew into Cullman’s backfield, intercepted a pitch and took it 70 yards the other way for a touchdown. After the extra point, the Red Raiders trailed just 17-14 with just under a minute remaining in the game. Decatur then recovered an onside kick to regain possession near midfield with 36 second on the clock and one last chance to tie things up. However, the black & gold defense kept the Red Raiders out of field goal range and Kay picked off his second pass of the night near the goal line on the game’s final play to ice a 17-14 win for the Bearcats.

Kay finished the night with two interceptions and a 64-yard touchdown run. Skinner finished with 58 yards and a touchdown on the ground, Drew Conway posted 37 rushing yards and Zills caught a pair of passes for 18 yards to go with his made field goal.

Cullman improves to 5-2 with the win and will be back on the road next week to take on Columbia in another region game.

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