Regular season finale slips away from Montevallo late

Published 12:35 am Friday, October 30, 2015

Caleb Cottingham turns upfield during Montevallo's regular season finale on Oct. 29 against Billingsley. After mounting a 21-0 first half lead, the Bulldogs fell 44-34. (Contributed / Brandon Sumrall)

Caleb Cottingham turns upfield during Montevallo’s regular season finale on Oct. 29 against Billingsley. Montevallo fell in the final game of the regular season 44-34. (Contributed / Brandon Sumrall)

By CHRIS MEGGINSON / Special to the Reporter

BILLINGLSEY – A pair of late interceptions, including a pick-six, changed the momentum for the Montevallo Bulldogs, as Billingsley rallied for a 44-34 Senior Night victory.

Montevallo led 21-10 at halftime, but was unable to finish. The reason was turnovers, injuries and overall focus, according to fourth-year head coach Andrew Zow.

“We fought it (lack of focus) from the beginning of the week, throughout the day today and during the game,” Zow said. “The kids didn’t play the way we know how to play. We were looking for that complete game and just didn’t get it.”

Billingsley got on the board first, but the Bulldogs answered with 4:48 left to play in the opening quarter on an Undraez Lilly three-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7. Zac Oden gave Montevallo its first lead, 14-7, on a 15-yard TD pass to Daqwan Bryant on the first play of the second quarter. The Bears cut the lead to four points, 14-10, on a field goal, but with 20 seconds remaining in the half, Oden extended the lead to 21-10 on a three-yard touchdown pass to Ahmad Edwards.

Montevallo was slow to get going coming out of halftime, as Billingsley once again pulled within four points, 21-17. Caleb Cottingham made it 28-17 on a two-yard touchdown run with 11:14 to play. The two teams went on to combine for 41 points in the final 12 minutes of play. Billingsley followed with a touchdown and two-point conversion before Kerry Mack tacked on a one-yard touchdown run with 6:25 to play to make it a nine-point game, 34-25, for Montevallo.

The Bulldogs were unable to keep up with the back-and-forth fourth quarter, as Oden threw two interceptions late and the Bears shut out the Bulldogs 19-0 in the final six minutes.

Oden finished the game with 157 yards passing on 17-of-24 attempts with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Edwards had five catches for 57 yards and Bryant had 54 yards on seven receptions. Lilly finished the game with 88 yards on 10 carries. Jackson Hughes and TreShawn Brown led the defense with 14 tackles each.

Zow admitted his team may have been looking past the non-region matchup against 1A Billingsley to next week’s home game in the first round of the AHSAA Class 4A playoffs. After all, it is the Bulldogs’ first time to host an opening round game since 1995.

“Our entire program was looking ahead instead of what was in front us,” Zow said. “(Billingsley’s) numbers are just like ours. We’re a small 4A team, and they’re 1A, but they have athletes, and their athletes outplayed us and their coaches out-coached us all the way around tonight.”

Montevallo will host St. James in the first round of the 4A playoffs next Friday, Nov. 6, at Theron Fisher Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

“We lost a little momentum going into the playoffs with a hard-fought loss tonight … I hate to get a loss and have to refocus ourselves, but if that’s what it takes, I’d rather it be a non-region game and have a heck of a run in the playoffs,” Zow said. “Hopefully our crowd will be excited like they were before and they’ll come out and support the boys … I’m excited for this community, the kids and to have an opportunity to do something that hadn’t been done in a long time. Hopefully we can get it done.”