Wildcats top Tigers in overtime in finale

By RICKY RUSTON / For the Reporter

COLUMBIANA — The Shelby County Wildcats and the Chilton County Tigers concluded their seasons Oct. 28 with the Cats claiming a 20-14 overtime win.

It was a night that honored many lasts for a group of senior Wildcats. For some, it was their last night as a cheerleader at Papa McCombs Stadium, and others, it was the last time they would march as the Pride of Shelby County. And, for a football player it was the best curtain call one could ask for – a win.

The first quarter showcased two offensive possessions for each squad that did little to warm the seats of fans for both sides. A Tiger fumble and a Wildcat interception highlighted a scoreless first quarter.

As the second quarter kicked off, the Cats found themselves in the middle of a drive that started from their own 31-yard line. After a Ty Proctor run from the Tiger 22-yard line, the Cats were knocking at the goal line with first-and-goal inside the 7-yard line. Two plays later, Proctor connected with Evan McNeal on a 6-yard scoring toss.  After the failed 2-point conversion, the Cats held a slim 6-0 lead.

A 6-point Wildcat lead was where the game stood going into intermission.

The Wildcats forced a punt on the opening possession of the second half, but a muffed punt from by Brent Wooley provided the Tigers with a second opportunity and they made it count.  An 11-play scoring drive was kept alive with a fourth-and-9 conversion from Forest Britnell to Austin Rossi. Three plays later, Britnell found Dyquan Floyd on third-and-14 from the Wildcat 15-yard line to go in for the score. An Anthony Chavez point-after-attempt hoisted the visiting Tigers into a 7-6 lead midway through the third quarter.

After a McNeal kick return to the Wildcat 43-yard line, the home team was in a position to answer the bell and they did. The Cats mustered up a four minute,  11-play scoring drive that was capped off when Wooley hit the end zone from the Tiger 3-yard line.  Proctor converted with Mike Pate for the 2-point conversion to give the Wildcats a 14-7 lead.

Ending the third quarter and starting the fourth, the Wildcat defense forced a four-and-out and a Tiger punt. A punt fell through the arms of McNeal on the run, hit the turf before being covered by a host of Tigers.

Two muffed punts were costly for the Cats, as the Tigers capitalized for two scores. The latter resulted in a fourth-and-inches touchdown run from Richard Hilliard.  With 7:34 remaining, the Tigers evened the score with their point-after-attempt, 14-14.

The Tigers clawed their way back and the Wildcats were licking wounds with time ticking away.

A Wildcats’ drive was stalled on a fourth-and-one attempt with just less than three minutes remaining. The Tigers were poised for a victory drive, and it would all come down to a 24-yard field goal attempt with five seconds remaining.

The snap was there, the hold was good, but the bolt of cardinal from left end was McNeal laying out to block the kick off Chavez’s foot., which sent the game to overtime for Tiger and Cats. It was redemption for McNeal.

The first offensive play for the Tigers in the overtime period was a fumble.  The first offensive play for the Wildcats offense was a rumbling Wooley touchdown run from the 10-yard line.

The seniors paved the way for the Wildcats, tallying up 270 yard of total offense.  Wooley finished the night with 99 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.  McNeal added 163 all-purpose yards, a touchdown reception and a blocked field goal that will linger. Proctor was successful on 7 of 13 attempts for 63 yards.

The Tiger offense rolled up 192 total yards, with 114 through the air.