PREP FOOTBALL: Hartselle hands Cullman 1st loss of season 34-3

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Cullman’s Nate Zills (1) fights for yardage in the Bearcats’ 34-3 loss to Hartselle Friday night. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – After handling Jasper 42-21 last week, the Bearcats returned home Friday night for another big rivalry game. This time, the Hartselle Tigers came to town for a region matchup with the ‘Cats and they got off to a great start to put Cullman in a hole early. The Tigers kept the Bearcats in check defensively and were able to hand Cullman its first loss of the season 34-3.

Cullman was forced to punt on its opening possession and a big return by the Tigers set up Hartselle’s offense deep in Bearcats territory. A few plays later, the Tigers scored from 9 yards out to take an early, 7-0 lead. After forcing another punt from the ‘Cats, Hartselle took advantage of great field position once again and punched in another touchdown run to make it a 14-0 game midway through the first quarter.

A 36-yard field goal added three more points to the Tigers’ lead with around seven minutes to play in the second quarter and stretched the lead to 17-0. Cullman continued to struggle offensively but Hartselle wasn’t done moving the ball in the first half and the Tigers found the end zone one more time in the final minutes of the second to take a 24-0 lead into the locker room at the break.

The Bearcats forced a Hartselle punt on the first possession of the third quarter and Cullman was finally able to get on the board when Nate Zills knocked a 50-yard field goal through the uprights to cut the lead to 24-3. The Tigers maintained a three-score lead going into the fourth quarter and a long touchdown run at the start of the final frame stretched the lead to 31-3.

A 35-yard field goal gave Hartselle a 34-3 advantage with around three minutes remaining in the game and the Tigers kept the ‘Cats out of the end zone one more time to hold onto a 34-3 win over Cullman.

The Bearcats drop to 2-1 with the loss and they’ll be back home next week for another region matchup against Decatur.

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