FULTONDALE--Facing a 15-point deficit against Vinemont (2-4, 1-2) with less than 11 minutes remaining in the game, Fultondale (5-1, 4-0) scored 29 unanswered points to win 36-22 in a come-from-behind effort on homecoming night.
“We never gave up, we kept fighting. Defense never stopped fighting, offense made big plays, and we were able to come out on top,” second-year Fultondale head coach Don Dover stated following the game.
After accumulating just 27 yards of offense in the first half, the Wildcats came out with redemption in the second half. All of Fultondale’s points came in the second half, along with 290 yards of offense.
202 of those yards came from senior running back Eyren Boyd. Boyd just could not be stopped in the second half as he scored three touchdowns, with the first being for 6 yards, the second being for 56 yards, and the third being for 77 yards.
Vinemont ran variants of one play almost the entire game: a handoff to Dallin Dinkle. The Eagle senior running back accepted 61 carries for 297 yards with two touchdowns.
The Eagles scored on the opening drive on a 10-play, 76-yard drive to go up 8-0. Following a Fultondale interception, Vinemont scored again to extend its lead to 14-0. A scoreless second quarter saw the teams go into the locker rooms with Vinemont leading 14-0.
Fultondale received the ball to start the second half and made the most of it. A 41-yard run by quarterback Willie Smith set the Wildcats up in the red zone, and Boyd powered it in from 6 yards out to cut the deficit to 14-7.
Vinemont clocked out 10:06 of the game clock on the next drive. Dinkle capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, and a 2-point conversion run. Those would be Vinemont’s final points.
After a Smith-to-William Hardrick 39-yard pass, Smith found the end zone on a 13-yard outside keeper to pull within eight with 10:38 remaining.
The Wildcat defense forced a huge three-and-out, and Boyd took advantage of the opportunity. The senior went 56 yards untouched for a touchdown; Smith’s 2-point conversion tied the game at 22 with 7:34 remaining.
With 3:04 remaining, the Eagles faced a very pivotal fourth-and-4. Dinkle was met behind the line by several Fultondale defenders, and gave the ball back to the Cats.
On the first play of the drive, Boyd broke free again, this time for 77 yards on a go-ahead touchdown. Fultondale led 29-22 with 2:50 remaining.
In hopes of a miracle on fourth-and-9, Vinemont quarterback Jack Hill lobbed the ball up in the air and was picked off by Hardrick. The junior sped 50 yards to give Fultondale outstanding field position. Smith put the game out of reach with a 9-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 14.
The Wildcats walked away with a huge 36-22 win to extend their region game winning streak to 22 games.
“It’s something we’re very proud of and very excited about. Vinemont came ready to play and wanted to be the team to end the streak,” Dover on the region winning streak.
The combination of Boyd stepping up, the defense finding an answer for Dinkle, and winning the battle up front ultimately won the game for Fultondale. The Wildcats showed perseverance, determination and maturity, and that’s tough to beat.
Fultondale will have arguably its biggest game of the year in a region championship matchup against the Midfield Patriots (5-1, 3-0). The Wildcats won last year’s contest by a count of 16-14.
“Midfield would be more than happy to take [the streak] away from us. If we don’t play four quarters next week, we’ll be in trouble,” Dover on improving for the road ahead.