Heartbreaker — Cullman stuns Jasper 28-27

Bearcats score game-winning TD with 3 seconds left

By JAMES PHILLIPS, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 8/24/18

CULLMAN — Jasper came up just short of an upset win over Cullman in the renewal of the two schools’ long-time rivalry Thursday night, falling to the Bearcats 28-27.

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Heartbreaker — Cullman stuns Jasper 28-27

Bearcats score game-winning TD with 3 seconds left

Posted

CULLMAN — Jasper came up just short of an upset win over Cullman in the renewal of the two schools’ long-time rivalry Thursday night, falling to the Bearcats 28-27.

The game marked the first time since 2013 the teams have met on the gridiron. An altercation between coaches after that game five years ago led to the rivalry being put on hold.

Jasper controlled most of the second half, but lost the game in heartbreaking fashion when Cullman scored on a 15-yard pass with only 3.4 seconds left in the game. The extra point put the Bearcats on top 28-27.

“This is one that we have got to think about and be upset about,” Jasper coach Bryan Moore said after the game. “We showed that we can play tonight. We picked up some confidence. We’ve just got to show that we can win these kinds of games.”

The Vikings offense outgained Cullman in total yards 411 to 321. Senior quarterback Michael Crear, who accounted for all four of the team’s touchdowns, led Jasper. Crear finished the night with 314 yards on 20-of-26 passing with one touchdown and two interceptions. He also picked up 46 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

“Michael did an outstanding job leading our team tonight. He hung in there and played tough,” Moore said.

Cole Bonner was Crear’s top target, catching seven passes for 119 yards, while Xavier Waldrop caught three passes for 91 yards and a touchdown.

The Vikings were led on the ground by Kaden Shelton, which picked up 62 yards on 10 carries before leaving the game in the second half with a leg injury. The Viking defense also lost a player to injury when sophomore linebacker E.J. Colbert was lost to a leg injury early in the game.

“To be this close to beating a team like Cullman, and we didn’t have two guys like Kaden and E.J., that says a lot about how our team competed tonight,” Moore said. “We played hard, and we played well at times. We’ve just got some things that we need to work on.”

Jasper will have time to work on things, because the Vikings have a bye next week.

Picking up a lead early, Jasper opened the night’s scoring when Crear scored on a 1-yard-run with 4:35 left in the first quarter. The score capped a 10-play, 65-yard drive, and was set up by three different pass plays from Crear to Bonner that picked up first downs.

The Bearcats fought back to tie the game at 7 with 4:15 left in the first half when Ezra Burks scored from five yards out.

With most of the first half being a defensive battle, the scoring opened up at the end of the half when the two teams combined for 21 points in 40 seconds. Cullman scored on a 17-yard touchdown from Max Dueland to Jake Dueland at the 40-second mark of the half. Jasper followed a play later with an 80-yard scoring strike from Crear to Waldrop with 27 seconds left in the half. Cullman then scored again to end the second quarter on a 22-yard pass from Max Dueland to Isaiah Jones which gave the Bearcats a 21-14 lead at halftime.

Jasper tied the game to open the second half when Crear leaped over the Cullman defense for a 3-yard score. That run capped a 16-play drive that was started on the Vikings’ own 23-yard-line. The third quarter ended with the game tied at 21.

Jasper took the lead with 5:24 left in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard run by Crear. The extra point was missed, giving the Vikings a 27-21 lead.

The teams traded possessions with Cullman getting the ball with just over a minute left in the game.

The Bearcats completed a pass with Jasper getting called for targeting on the play, setting Cullman up on the Vikings’ 15-yard line with 31 seconds left. Facing fourth-and-10 from the 15, Cullman drew up a pass play that saw Dueland hit Noah Bussman in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown to tie the game. The extra point put Cullman on top with 3.4 seconds left. Jasper threw an interception on its final play of the game.

With the bye next week, Jasper (0-1) will not return to play until Sept. 7 when the Vikings travel to Dora for a key Class 5A, Region 7 game.