Shelton Waldrop

Fultondale football players Reginald Spencer (8) and Joshua Underwood (72) hold up a Shelton Waldrop's No. 10 jersey during a halftime ceremony at Wildcats Field on Sept. 13, 2019. Waldrop, a former Fultondale student, lost his life in February following a long fight with cancer. 

FULTONDALE—On a night when quarterback Willie Smith contributed to two long touchdowns, Fultondale (2-1, 2-0 Class 3A, Region 5) held off J.B. Pennington 21-7, extending its region winning streak to 20 games.

Smith, in his first season under center after three years as a receiver, showed some nifty footwork midway through the second quarter when he kept a read-option and shot down the left side for a 51-yard score. He made multiple Tigers miss around the 20-yard line with a stutter-step as he worked his way to the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

That margin would grow to 14 points on the Wildcats’ opening drive of the second half. Smith went to the air this time, tossing a jump ball deep down the left side where junior William Hardrick pulled it down and separated from the defense for a 77-yard touchdown reception.

“We need to have that to keep people honest because we like to run the football, run it downhill, so when we can get over-the-top plays like that, it loosens them up and makes our running game a lot more successful,” said Dover.

Hardrick finished with five receptions for 108 yards and the score. Smith would go on to complete eight of his 12 passes for 155 yards to go with another 99 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

J.B. Pennington (0-4, 0-2 Region 5) entered Friday night’s game having been held scoreless in their last two games against Susan Moore and Hanceville. Their fortunes were not much better against the Wildcats who held them to 247 yards of total offense and one fourth-quarter touchdown. Sophomore running back John Williams capped a seven-play drive with a 5-yard push into the end zone, cutting the deficit to 14-7 with 11:27 remaining in the contest.

“They moved the ball and got us a little flustered because their offense stayed on the field for a while, but coach [David] Reed and the defense did a great job of keeping them out of the end zone except for that one time when we turned the ball over. That one is on the offense,” said Dover.

The Tigers later got a defensive stop, as Fultondale senior Jonathon Victoriano-Aguilar pulled a 27-yard field goal wide left. However, Pennington’s efforts to even things up late were stopped at their own 35 when Williams came up three yards short on a fake punt attempt. Fultondale took possession with a 14-7 lead and 2:50 remaining on the clock.

Five snaps later, senior running back Eyren Boyd charged 11 yards into the end zone to put the win on ice.

Boyd finished the game with 38 yards rushing and the touchdown on 13 carries. Junior receiver Joshua Maston caught two passes for 27 yards.

This win improves the Wildcats to 17-4 at home over the last three season.

“We kept fighting when things didn’t go our way,” said Dover. “We made way too many mistakes and give credit to Pennington: They did some things defensively that we haven’t seen them do before and we didn’t make adjustments as quick as we needed to and once we did we still struggled with it, but we’ll get those things worked out this next week before Holly Pond.”

The Wildcats remain in Region 5 play next Friday at Holly Pond.

Fultondale honored former student Shelton Waldrop at halftime, as Mayor Jim Lowery presented his parents with a plaque and fans released yellow balloons into the sky in recognition of childhood cancer awareness month. Waldrop lost his life in February following a long battle with cancer.  

Erik Harris is the sports editor for The North Jefferson News. He can be reached at sports@njeffersonnews.com

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