Comeback ‘Cats Vansant finds Burns twice in fourth quarterback

Shelby County’s postseason chances appeared to be slipping away until Dane Vansant connected with Brandon Burns twice in the fourth quarter.

The late-game heroics led the Wildcats to a 21-20 comeback victory over Haleyville last Friday night.

With the win Shelby County advanced to the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

Things didn’t start well for coach Geoff Walters’ Wildcats as an Eric Hernandez field goal attempt was blocked in the first quarter.

A Haleyville lineman scooped up the loose ball and rumbled more than 60 yards for the score.

But Haleyville was penalized for spiking the football, a mistake that later proved costly. Backed up on the conversion attempt, they went for 2 and failed.

The Wildcats didn’t score until the third quarter, on a 2-yard run by Derek Harris.

Haleyville (7-4) jumped out to a 20-7 lead later in the third quarter after scoring on a 53-yard pass.

The Shelby County offense, which stalled for much of the first half,

seemed to come alive in the second, behind the arm of Vansant and the athletic catches of Burns.

Vansant was 8-of-15 passing in the game. He threw for 144 yards and two touchdowns, both snags by Burns.

The first Vansant-to-Burns touchdown came on a 50-yard pass.

&uot;(Burns) went up over two other guys and brought it down,&uot; Walters said. &uot;He kind of spun out and headed for the endzone while the other two guys tripped over each other.

&uot;Burns had a terrific game,&uot; Walters said. &uot;We are looking for big things out of him this week.&uot;

Michael Gaiters’ late interception provided a big momentum shift, Walters said, and was a key turning point in the game.

The game-winner came on a fourth-and-seven play when Vansant found Burns on a fade route for the 16-yard score.

Hernandez’ kick put the Wildcats ahead for good.

&uot;I hate to have to win ’em late, but we’ll win ’em anyway we can,&uot; Walters said.

Shelby County will hope to carry the momentum into the second round.

Despite the strong finish, Walters said early mental mistakes nearly cost Shelby County the game.

&uot;We surely can’t do that this week and win,&uot; Walters said. &uot;We’re going to have to play our best to win the ballgame.&uot;

Boaz will face the Wildcats next after beating Hokes Bluff 41-7 Friday night.

Boaz (9-1) fell only to North Jackson this season, a team that played for the state title in last year’s Super Six.

&uot;They’re a big, strong team,&uot; Walters said. &uot;They average about 6-3, 280 across the offensive line.&uot;

Shelby County will host Boaz this Friday night at 7 p.m. Gates will open at 5:15 p.m