Hernandez lifts Wildcats over Valley

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Valley fumble in overtime and a 27-yard field goal by Wildcats kicker Erick Hernandez gave Shelby County a 24-21 homecoming victory Friday night and kept the team’s hope of a playoff birth alive for one more week.

The Valley Rams looked like they would walk away from Columbiana with an easy win Friday, starting the game with a 21-6 lead in the first half. But late in the second quarter the Wildcats were able to score and cut the Rams’ lead to one touchdown.

&uot;We felt like at the end of the half we had started to get control of the game,&uot; Shelby County head coach Bruce Breland said. &uot;We challenged the defense not to let them score in the second half.&uot;

The Wildcat’s defense answered that challenge, creating a turnover early in the third quarter that allowed Shelby County to score and tie the game at 21.

The Rams continued to march, however, moving the ball on a tired Wildcat defense for most of the game.

&uot;They’re a good football team, and they have a lot of team speed,&uot; Breland said of Valley. &uot;We tried to make some offensive adjustments &045; some of them worked and some of them didn’t.&uot;

The Wildcats were able to hold off the Rams, taking the game into overtime with playoff hopes for both teams on the line.

Shelby County won the coin toss and elected to defend first. On their second play in the extra period, the Rams fumbled the ball, leaving the Wildcats with excellent field position and only needing to score a field goal.

That field goal came off the foot of Hernandez three plays later.

&uot;Erick had not been kicking extra points well in practice,&uot; Breland said of his senior placekicker. &uot;But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sweeter kick.&uot;

As the ball soared though the uprights, it set Papa McCombs Stadium into a frenzy as the Wildcats celebrated their homecoming victory.

&uot;This game was all about heart and what our guys had in them,&uot; Breland said. &uot;Which team wanted to go to the playoffs the most is the one we knew would come out a winner.&uot;

The playoff look for Shelby County, while not the best, is still a look.

The Wildcats sit in fifth place behind Chilton County (3-3 region) with a 2-4 region record. Chilton faces Briarwood this Friday night while Shelby County travels to Talladega for a must-win.

&uot;First we have to come off of cloud nine, but we have to refocus,&uot; Breland said. &uot;I don’t see us letting down our emotions. We’re supercharged right now and I believe these players are going to get up and be ready.