PREP FOOTBALL: Owens’ late TD leads Cullman past Mortimer Jordan 26-24

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Cullman’s Tyler Owens (12) scored the game-winning touchdown with just over three minutes remaining to help lead the Bearcats past Mortimer Jordan 26-24. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – After dominating Lee Huntsville on the road last week, the Cullman Bearcats returned to their home field Friday night to host a homecoming matchup against the Blue Devils of Mortimer Jordan. Most of Cullman’s games have come down to the wire this season and this week’s was no exception. The Blue Devils scored late in the fourth to take their first lead of the night but the ‘Cats responded with a game-sealing scoring drive of their own to earn a 26-24 win for homecoming.

After both teams exchanged punts on their opening possessions, Cullman put together a scoring drive that was capped off by a 1-yard dive into the end zone by Evan Dye. The extra point was no good and the Bearcats took a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter. The ‘Cats added to their lead on their next possession when L.J. Turner scored from 4 yards out and stretched the lead to 13-0 late in the opening period.

The Blue Devils were finally able to find some offense on the ensuing possession and put together a scoring drive of their own to trim the lead to 13-7 with just over eight minutes to play in the first half. Cullman got those points back later in the second quarter when Nate Zills took a screen pass from quarterback Ryan Skinner and sprinted 26 yards past Mortimer Jordan defenders for another touchdown. The extra point put the Bearcats in front 20-7 with a little over two minutes remaining in the first half and after both teams traded interceptions, the Blue Devils were able to tack on a field goal in the final seconds of the quarter to cut the lead to 20-10 at the break.

Mortimer Jordan took its first drive of the third quarter down the field for a touchdown, trimming the Cullman lead to 20-17 early in the second half. The Bearcats missed a 33-yard field goal attempt on their ensuing possession and the Blue Devils took advantage of the shift in momentum. Mortimer Jordan pieced together a long, methodical drive and finished it off with a 2-yard scoring run to take its first lead of the night over the Bearcats 24-20 early in the fourth quarter.

Cullman’s offense went back onto the field needing a touchdown to move back in front and the Bearcats delivered. After working their way down into Blue Devil territory, Skinner found Zills open in the flat and he broke through several tackles before being brought down at the 8-yard line. On the next play, Tyler Owens took a handoff up the middle, and he drove his way into the end zone from 8 yards out to reclaim a 26-24 lead for the ‘Cats. The extra point was no good and Cullman’s defense came back out onto the field with a 2-point lead and just over three minutes on the clock. Facing fourth and 11, the Blue Devils completed a pass but were tackled short of the sticks and Cullman celebrated homecoming with a 26-24 win over Mortimer Jordan.

Skinner completed 11 of his 18 pass attempts for 138 yards, a touchdown and an interception on the win. Skinner also led the Bearcats on the ground with 61 yards on 13 carries. Owens finished with 50 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and Dye posted 46 yards and a score on 10 carries as well. Zills caught five passes for 70 yards and a touchdown in the win.

Cullman will be back on the road next week for a huge region game against Athens.

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