Wildcats pluck Eagles from perch
COLUMBIANA – There will be no perfect season for the Calera Eagles (4-1) this year. The Shelby County Wildcats (3-2) made sure of that Friday, as they ran through the Eagles’ defense on their way to a 21-14 upset over No. 4 Calera.
While Calera has been scoring at will all season, Shelby County has struggled to protect its team against turnovers, blocked punts and missed assignments on defense.
Friday was the luck changer as the Wildcats forced a blocked punt late in the game and later recovered their own fumble in the end zone for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown.
“I think this was the turnaround game for us. We’ve had some monkeys on our back so far, and I hope that we just got this monkey off our back,” said Shelby County head coach Ryan Herring.
The Eagles struck first in their traditional big-play fashion, finding Earl Haynes on an 87-yard pass from Paul Winterbottom. However, Shelby County bounced right back with a big 76-yard run for a touchdown.
“(Darion Sutton) made a good block and the O-Line did a great job tonight,” said Buie, who finished with 140 yards on 17 carries. “We’ve been waiting on this since this summer. We didn’t want nobody else other than Calera.”
Shelby County went on to take a 14-7 lead in the second quarter on a 1-yard run by Sutton, but Winterbottom connected with Lacey for a 42-yard touchdown.
The score held until Sutton was preparing to punch the ball in from the 8-yard line and fumbled with two minutes left in the quarter. There to pick up the loose ball was Daniel Watkins who took it in for a touchdown to go up 21-14.
On any other night, Herring may have expected to see the fumble result in a busted play. Now, he hopes those days are behind him.
“We really haven’t been physically beaten. We’ve beat ourselves, and tonight we didn’t beat ourselves,” Herring said.
Calera and Shelby County battled through the fourth quarter, as Shelby County continued to waste the clock. Calera received the ball in the final minutes of the fourth quarter and began to drive the ball down field.
Winterbottom connected on a 65-yard pass to set up a first down at the Wildcats’ 24-yard line, only to be called back on a penalty. Wesley Howard picked off a Calera pass to end the game.
Sutton finished with 99 yards rushing as part of the team’s 232 yards rushing to the Eagles’ -6 yards.
Calera returns home Friday to host Beulah for homecoming, while Shelby County hosts Dallas County for homecoming.
Chris Bunn contributed to this report.
CORRECTION: The previous version of this story misidentified the Shelby County player who recovered Darion Sutton’s fumble for a touchdown..