PREP FOOTBALL: No. 4 Muscle Shoals downs Cullman 34-14

The Cullman Bearcats fell to Muscle Shoals at home 34-14 Friday night. (Jennifer Lovoy/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – With a playoff berth guaranteed, the Cullman Bearcats were home Friday night where they hosted the undefeated and fourth ranked Muscle Shoals Trojans. The Bearcats kept it close for most of the game before falling to the Trojans 34-14.

Taking the opening kickoff, the Trojans put together an impressive eight play drive deep into Cullman’s end of the field. Looking to score, Muscle Shoals ran the ball and fumbled at the 10-yard line where it was recovered by Cullman’s Jackson Sessions.

Hindered by penalties, the Bearcats were unable to move the ball and had to punt back the Trojans. It appeared that Cullman’s defense had forced Muscle Shoals to punt when a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Trojans the ball back and kept their drive alive. Taking the ball back over at the Cullman 37-yard line, the Trojans only took four plays to score as Jacquess Greene ran for a three-yard touchdown. The PAT was no good and the Trojans took the early lead 6-0 with 4:10 left in the first quarter.

Cullman got the ball on their own 29-yard line and looked to match the score by the Trojans. A trick play for the Bearcats looked to be no good when a defensive pass interference was called against the Trojans. Two plays later, another defensive pass interference called against Muscle Shoals had the Bearcats knocking on the goal line of the Trojans. Facing a fourth and one from the five-yard line, Sessions ran for four yards and got the first down at the one-yard line. Two plays later, Sessions ran in for the score to start the second quarter. The PAT was good by Garrett Mobley and the Bearcats took the lead 7-6.

An apparent big play by Muscle Shoals was negated by a blindside block penalty. A few big passes by Cole Woods for the Trojans and they were deep in Cullman territory. The seven-play scoring drive was finished when Woods completed a 19-yard pass to Hadden Vance and with 8:12 left in the first half, their lead was 13-7.

Cullman was unable to move the ball and quickly punted to the Muscle Shoals. On the first play, the Trojans fumbled the ball again and it was recovered at the 46-yard line by Kam Myers. Five plays later, Sessions scored on an 11-yard run and with 4:21 left in the second quarter, Cullman’s lead was 14-13.

A sack by J.C. Patterson looked to be the end of the next drive for Muscle Shoals. On the next play, Woods completed a 63-yard scoring pass to Justice Henry to complete the first half scoring leading 20-14.

Total yards for the first half were in favor of the Trojans 228 yards to 127 for Cullman.

Sacks and penalties were big factors in preventing either team from putting together any long drives in the third quarter. One 64-yard touchdown pass for the Trojans was negated by an ineligible player downfield. On the first play of the second drive for Muscle Shoals, Woods kept the ball and ran 67 yards for a touchdown and with 6:34 remaining in the third quarter, the Trojans extended their lead 27-14. 

Cullman got the ball with 8:13 remaining in the game and needed to score and get the ball back to try and win the game. 10 plays later, the Bearcats faced a fourth and 20 from the Muscle Shoals 30-yard line. The pass was incomplete from Tanner Gaines and the Trojans took over on downs.

A 19-yard touchdown run by Natarruean Hampton capped off five straight running plays by him as the Trojans took the final score to 33-14.

Cullman finishes up the regular season next week against the Etowah Blue Devils at home.

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