FULTONDALE—It was not the second half Fultondale head coach Don Dover was looking for.
“They were tough to tackle and they made some things happen offensively and defensively we were not getting them to the ground,” said Dover of the final 24 minutes of his team’s 28-19 season-ending loss to B.B. Comer Friday night.
The Wildcats (8-3) were outscored 14-0 through the final two quarters of play after going to the break with a 19-14 advantage. Fultondale scored the first 16 points of the game.
“We just thought the game was over when we got up early and we did not finish out strong,” said junior receiver William Hardrick, who enjoyed a big night on Wildcats Field.
Hardrick exploded in the first half with five receptions for 135 yards and two scores. Senior quarterback Willie Smith hung it up high for the junior late in the first frame. Hardrick climbed over defenders and tore down a 15-yard touchdown reception to give the home team a 10-0 lead.
He quickly returned to the end zone thanks to a 62-yard shot down the middle of the Tigers’ defense on the first play of the second quarter. Hardrick beat his man on a post and Smith found him wide open over the middle for a 16-0 advantage.
Adjustments were made in the locker room, and Smith-to-Hardrick happened only once in the second half.
“They stared bracketing him [Hardrick] to take that away, so we had some other guys that we had to get the ball to and we had some dropped balls that hurt us and I made some bad play calls,” said Dover.
With Hardrick contained, Fultondale struggled to find offense in the second half, and B.B. Comer (6-5) took advantage. The visitors took their first lead at 20-19 late in the third following an eight-play touchdown drive that ended with Rapheale Johnson’s 4-yard run.
The No. 4-seed Tigers stretched the lead to 28-19 on their following possession. The nine-play drive was aided by a crucial roughing the passer penalty, which erased Brandon Sims’ interception and extended the drive into Fultondale territory. Four snaps later on a fourth-and-10, B.B. Comer quarterback Devonta Carmichael scrambled left, broke containment as he did for much of the second half and cut back inside for a 25-yard touchdown run that seemingly broke Fultondale’s back with 7:36 remaining.
The Wildcats went three plays and out on the ensuing possession and later ended the season with a turnover on downs.
Following the game, Dover thanked a senior class which won four straight region crowns with a career conference record of 24-0.
“I’m very proud of them,” said Dover of his seven seniors. “I mean, 24-0 in four years with four region championships is pretty impressive.”